by Brian DeChesare Comments (274)

The Investment Banking Cover Letter Template You’ve Been Waiting For

The Investment Banking Cover Letter Template You've Been Waiting For

A long time ago I said that we would never post a cover letter template here:

“I was tempted to post a Word template, but I don’t want 5,000 daily visitors to copy it and to start using the same exact cover letter.”

But hey, we already have resume templates that everyone is using, so why not go a step further and give you a cover letter template as well?

Plus, “investment banking cover letter” is one of the top 10 search terms visitors use to find this site – so you must be looking for a template.

The Template & Tutorial

Let’s jump right in:

Investment Banking Cover Letter Template [Download]

And here’s the video that explains everything:

(For more free training and financial modeling videos, subscribe to our YouTube channel.)

And if you’d rather read, here’s the text version:

Do Cover Letters Actually Matter?

At bulge bracket banks, people barely read cover letters.

Cover letters matter 10x less than resumes and 100x less than networking.

But there are a few special cases where they’re more important:

  • Boutiques and Local Banks – Sometimes they actually read cover letters.
  • Unusual Backgrounds – If you’re NOT in university or business school at the moment, you may need to explain yourself in more detail.
  • Outside the US – In Europe, for example, some banks pay more attention to cover letters, online applications, and so on.

Similar to grades and test scores, a great cover letter won’t set you apart but a poor one will hurt you – so let’s find out how to avoid that.

Overall

Keep your cover letter compact and avoid 0.1″ margins and size 8 font.

With resumes you can get away with shrinking the font sizes and margins if you really need to fit in extra information, but this is questionable with cover letters.

Go for 0.75″ or 1″ margins and at least size 10 font.

With resumes there were a couple different templates depending on your level – but with cover letters that’s not necessary and you can use the same template no matter your background.

1 Page Only

Ok, maybe they do things differently in Australia (just like with resumes) but aside from that there is no reason to write a multi-page cover letter.

If you actually have enough experience to warrant multiple pages, do it on your resume instead and keep the cover letter brief.

Contact Information

List your own information – name, address, phone number, and email address – right-aligned up at the top.

Then, below that you list the date and the name and contact information for the person you’re writing to, left-aligned on the page.

If you don’t have this information you can just list the company name and address and use a “Dear Sir or Madam” greeting.

That’s not ideal – especially if you’re applying to smaller firms where cover letters actually get read – but it’s all you can do if you can’t find a person’s name.

If you’re sending the cover letter via email as the body of the email, you can omit all this information and just include the greeting at the top.

Paragraph 1: Introduction

This is where you explain who you are, where you’re currently working or studying, and how you found the bank that you’re applying to.

Name-drop as much as possible:

  • Impressive-sounding university or business school? Mention it. Even if it’s not well-known, you still need to mention it here.
  • Your company name, especially if it’s recognizable, and the group you’re working in, especially if it’s something relevant to finance like business development.
  • How you found them – specific peoples’ names, specific presentations or information sessions where you met them, and so on.
  • The position you’re applying for (Analyst? Associate?) – especially for smaller places that are not well-organized.

This first paragraph is all about grabbing their attention.

Example 1st Paragraph:

“My name is John Smith and I am currently a 3rd year economics major at UCLA. I recently met Fred Jackson from the M&A group at Goldman Stanley during a presentation at our school last week, and was impressed with what I learned of your culture and recent deal flow. I am interested in pursuing an investment banking summer analyst position at your firm, and have enclosed my resume and background information below.”

Paragraph 2: Your Background

You go through your most relevant experience and how the skills you gained will make you a good banker right here.

Do not list all 12 internships or all 5 full-time jobs you’ve had – focus on the most relevant 1-2, once again name-dropping where appropriate (bulge bracket banks / large PE firms / Fortune 500 companies).

Highlight the usual skills that bankers want to see – teamwork, leadership, analytical ability, financial modeling and so on.

If you worked on a high-impact project / deal / client, you can point that out and list the results as well.

This may be your longest paragraph, but you still don’t want to write War and Peace – keep it to 3-4 sentences.

Example 2nd Paragraph:

“I have previously completed internships in accounting at PricewaterhouseCoopers and in wealth management at UBS. Through this experience working directly with clients, analyzing financial statements, and making investment recommendations, I have developed leadership and analytical skills and honed my knowledge of accounting and finance. I also had the opportunity to work with a $20M net-worth client at UBS and completely revamped his portfolio, resulting in a 20% return last year.”

Paragraph 3: Why You’re a Good Fit

Now you turn around and link your experience and skills to the position more directly and explain that leadership + quantitative skills + accounting/finance knowledge = success.

There is not much to this part – just copy the template and fill in the blanks.

Example 3rd Paragraph:

“Given my background in accounting and wealth management and my leadership and analytical skills, I am a particularly good fit for the investment banking summer analyst position at your firm. I am impressed by your track record of clients and transactions at Goldman Stanley and the significant responsibilities given to analysts, and I look forward to joining and contributing to your firm.”

Paragraph 4: Conclusion

This part’s even easier: remind them that your resume is enclosed (or attached if sent via email), thank them for their time, and give your contact information once again so they don’t have to scroll to the top to get it.

Example 4th Paragraph:

“A copy of my resume is enclosed for your reference. I would welcome an opportunity to discuss my qualifications with you and learn more about Goldman Stanley at your earliest convenience. I can be reached at 310-555-1234 or via email at johnsmith@fake.com. Thank you very much for your time and consideration.”

Unusual Backgrounds

These examples cover how to apply to a bank if you’re in university, business school, or you’ve been working for several years.

If you have a more unusual background (e.g. you went to med school, graduated, started your residency, but then decided you wanted to be an investment banker), then you might need to add a few sentences to paragraph #2 or #3 explaining yourself.

Resist the urge to write your life story because no one will read it – interviews are a much better venue to prove how committed you are.

Email vs. Attachments

If you’re emailing your cover letter and resume, do you create a separate cover letter attachment?

Or do you make the body of your email the cover letter?

I think it’s redundant to create a separate cover letter and attach it, so don’t bother unless they ask specifically for a separate cover letter.

If you’re making the body of your email the cover letter, make it even shorter (4-5 sentences total) and cut out the address bits at the top.

Optional Cover Letters?

If you’re applying online and it says “Optional Cover Letter” should you still upload one?

You might as well because it takes 2 minutes once you have a good template – it’s not the end of the world if you don’t include one, but you never know what everyone else is doing and it’s not terribly time-consuming.

Cover Letter Mistakes

Remember the role of cover letters: great ones don’t help much, but poor ones get you dinged.

The biggest mistakes with cover letters:

  • Making outrageous claims (“I’m a math genius!”) or trying to be “creative” with colors, pictures, fonts, and so on.
  • Going on for too long – 10 paragraphs or multiple pages.
  • Listing irrelevant information like your favorite ice cream, your favorite quotes from Wall Street or Boiler Room, and so on.

If you think this sounds ridiculous, remember the golden rule: do not overestimate the competition.

For every person reading this site, there are dozens more asking, “What it’s like to be an investment banker?” at information sessions.

Sometimes you hear stories of people who write “impassioned” cover letters, win the attention of a boutique, and get in like that

…And I’m sure that happens, but you do not want to do that at large banks.

If you do, your cover letter will be forwarded to the entire world and your “career” will be destroyed in 5 minutes.

More Examples

As with resumes, there are hardly any good examples of investment banking cover letters online.

Most of the templates are horribly formatted and are more appropriate for equities in Dallas than real investment banking.

Here’s a slightly different but also good templates you could use:

More questions? Ask away.

Still Need More Help?

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Specifically, here’s what you’ll get:

  • Detailed, line-by-line editing of your resume/CV – Everything that needs to be changed will be changed. No detail is ignored.
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  • The 3-point structure to use for all your “Work Experience” entries: simple, but highly effective at getting the attention of bankers.
  • How to spin non-finance experience into sounding like you’ve been investing your own portfolio since age 12.
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  • How to avoid the fatal resume mistake that gets you automatically rejected. Nothing hurts more than making a simple oversight that gets you an immediate “ding”.
  • We only work with a limited number of clients each month. In fact, we purposely turn down potential clients in cases where we cannot add much value. We prefer quality over quantity, and we always want to ensure that we can work well together first.

FIND OUT MORE

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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Comments

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  1. Avatar
    Ayomide Akindele

    Hi Brian

    Thanks for the write up!

    If i am writing my cover letter in the body of the email, Do i write the name of the recipient instead of dear Madam ?

  2. Hey Brian – thanks for this article. Quick question: is there a certain point in your career (in my case, I’m an associate) when you can stop with the cover letters even if they give you the option?

    1. Cover letters are pretty much always optional unless they ask for one.

  3. Hi Brian,

    I was wondering for your template, you gave a solid and formal introduction. I also see other career advice sites that recommend making the cover letter “memorable” and straying away from the cookie cutter method with more flashy intros. As an example just from another online source:
    When I was seven, I wanted to be the GEICO gecko when I grew up. I eventually realized that wasn’t an option, but you can imagine my excitement when I came across the events manager position, which would have me working side by side with my favorite company mascot.
    So what’s your opinion on this? I’m sure it’s different for every field, so would you say the average investment banker appreciates something like this, or would it just make them roll their eyes and make you seem too keen/tryhard.

    Thanks!

    1. Same Andrew again…

      Sorry I should’ve watched your video fully before asking. But you mentioned to not get too fancy with fonts, photos, etc. But would the bit of personal information outside the cookie cutter approach separate you in the slightest? To me, cover letters sound like they have the same purpose as GPA. A 4.0 (good but generic cover letter) won’t give you any advantages, but a 2.5 (poorly done letter) will eliminate you from the application process.

      1. Yes, cover letters are basically used to weed out people, not to select them. You can include some personal information such as an interesting student group, study abroad, or experience that led you to IB, but don’t go overboard with trying to appear “interesting.” Save that for actual networking and interviews.

    2. If you are applying to traditional “high finance” roles such as investment banking, private equity, etc., you should not do anything creative with your cover letter. It will only backfire. Firms either do not read cover letters, or if they do, they simply look at them to make sure you didn’t do something silly or inappropriate. You’re taking a very big risk by writing a “creative” cover letter, and one that has very little upside with tons of downside.

  4. Avatar
    Collin V

    Hi Brian,

    For online applications that request your resume, but do not specify whether a cover letter should be included, should I submit a cover letter? Also since you can only submit one document in these cases, should you compile resume and cover letter into one document?

    Thanks so much.

    1. If they just request your resume, just include your resume. I would not even bother with a cover letter or combining them into one document.

  5. Hi Brian,

    Do we have to leave

    “Enclosure: Resume”

    At the bottom of the Cover Letter?
    Many thanks

    1. *In Online Application where they ask you to attach your CV and Cover Letter – if that makes any difference

      1. Brina, many thanks for the quick answer. Just a last question:

        Shall we sign between sincerely and our name or under our name?Both options are good?

        Alternative A:

        Sicerely,

        (Signature)

        Name

        Alternative B:

        Sincerely,

        Name

        (Signature)

        1. The first one is slightly better.

  6. Avatar
    Kevin Cisneros

    Hey Brian,

    I just wanted to thank you for not only this Cover Letter template but also your Resume template. I have used both and I have received great feedback from interviewers and getting my foot in the door for asset management.

    1. Thanks! Glad to hear it. Good luck!

  7. Hi Brian,

    This question targets the paragraph listing relevant experiences & skills gained through it.

    As a University Student with some corporate finance and consulting experience but nothing directly related to investment banking, do you think it would be relevant to list explain skills gained during university classes (e.g. a term project that simulated the entire M&A process based on a real life deal) that involved valuation, simulated investor calls, etc. Or do you believe sticking to actual work experience would be best suited.

    Thanks a lot for all the content you post.

    1. Stick to your work experience if you have actual CF and consulting internships. Maybe add a line or brief phrase within a line that mentions your learnings from university classes as well.

  8. I live in the UK and I’ve been told cover letters carry a lot of weighting in the initial application process. I have written a cover letter which is 8 paragraphs but it’s still 1 page. Do you think this would be ok or should I take some stuff out? Thanks in advance, great website you have.

    1. By the way, it’s still size 10 font but I had to reduce the line spacing between the paragraphs to fit it all in.

    2. Cover letters only matter in the “negative” sense, i.e. if you write something stupid or have typos, you could lose an offer or interview opportunity. Your cover letter should be as short as possible, so 8 paragraphs is too long, especially if you had to reduce the font size to 10, which is too small. So, be more concise and realize that bankers glance at hundreds/thousands of these letters each recruiting season…

  9. How do one relate a tax internship experience which I acquired In an accounting consulting firm to an investment banking internship I hope to start with with BofA

    1. Talk about how your tax findings/work affected the big picture… did they potentially change the company’s valuation? What was the impact on the company’s financial statements? Did anything you did result in changes to the internal controls at the company? Did you do any tax work related to M&A or equity/debt deals?

  10. Hi Brian, I have read that the header of a cover letter should match your resume. Is there a reason the header from the M&I resume template was not included in this cover letter template?

    Louis

    1. ??? I think it would be very odd if your cover letter started with your name in a bigger font size at the top… so, no if that is what you are asking about. A cover letter should start with the normal heading of a letter. Your resume is different because it’s intended to present the key points in bullet/highlight format.

      1. I agree. Thanks.

  11. Hi Brian,

    I’m applying online to banks in the EMEA area and most banks ask for my motivation – they don’t require a cover letter. Could I still use this template? or wouldn’t it make any sense to use this template?

    If its the case that this template would not be useful, do you have any tips on what to focus on in such a motivation letter?

    Thanks!

    1. I think this template is too long for a simple question about your motivation. Your motivation should basically be the last part of your “story” – assuming 150 words for a competency question and a 300-word story. See:

      https://www.mergersandinquisitions.com/how-to-tell-your-story-investment-banking-interviews/

  12. Brian,

    How do you travel like a dug dealer? haha…You are funny.
    Great info. Thanks a lot. I’m trying to break the front door at Piper Jaffray so I can put my little two feet inside that door.

  13. hey,
    i am actually studying law in France but i wanted to go on trading/investment banking/hedge fund area. What would you suggest me ? Which arguments should I point out ?

    Thanks a lot !

    1. ??? I’m not sure I understand your question.

  14. Hi,

    The links for Workbloom – Investment Banking Intern Template and Vanderbilt – Cover Letter Template are not valid anymore. Is it possible to fix that? Thank you very much!

    Sincerely,
    Frank

    1. We don’t have alternate links, sorry. But the template there wasn’t much different anyway.

  15. Hi Brian,
    I had a question in mind. I have been working with a Big four Audit firm in India for the past 10 months now, and have a Bachelors in Commerce degree from a non-target University here. The role here is Back-end, as in we do not have client interaction, and rather coordinate with the US/EMEA teams – which deal with the clients directly – for the work.
    Recently, I got a call from GS for an Analyst position under the Data Resource Group for its IB Division in India. How do you suggest I pitch my auditing experience to get an offer for this position?
    Also, considering the work I do here is back-end and basically, formatting files around and punching in numbers!
    Thanks in advance for your help!

    1. I would just point out how your audit work led directly to results with clients and how you were a part of the client-interaction process, even if you didn’t speak with them directly. As a result, you have a good understanding of what they’re looking for and how to get them results most efficiently.

  16. Thanks for the template. Is it correct to include in the cover letter an entreprise which I am auditing or not?

    1. Sure, you could, but you have to be able to tie that to whatever role(s) you’re applying for.

  17. Hi there, thanks for the cover letter template you provided. It’s a great help. Just wondering does the same template work for UK application? As you mentioned they tend to pay attention to cover letters.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Yes this template works for UK applications.

  18. Thank you for sharing your blog, it helped a lot cos I am also having a hard time in writing a cover letter and I suck! Hope you can help more. Keep it up!

  19. Hi there,

    Thank you for sharing the template and guide!
    I am a recent college grad and just started working in an economic consulting firm (last month). I want to make the career transfer to IB and I am trying my best networking everywhere. I am applying for an IB analyst position and editing my cover letter. Should I still mention in the cover letter my leadership roles in college or it does not matter much?

    Many thanks!

    1. You can mention them briefly, but you should focus on your current role.

  20. Thanks for the template! After working as an ER associate for 2 years in my hometown, I am moving from North America to Europe in the next few weeks. Should I mention in my cover letter something to the effect of “After visiting [country] several times over the past few years, I applied for and received my Work Visa” or will the recruiter assume I have a visa and do not require sponsorship? I just do not want to be passed over if they are assuming I will be a headache for them!

    Furthermore, I am also hoping to move from ER to corporate. Besides tailoring the letter to reflect skills mentioned in the posting, are there any other changes that need to be made when moving out of capmarkets?

    Thank you for your time!

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Sure you can include this. Yes, I’d talk about why you want to move from ER to corporate and talk about why you prefer corporate over ER (perhaps you prefer the type of work in corporate better and you see yourself in a corporate vs. in a bank) and you want to move over to XX industry [the industry the corporate you’re applying for is in] given XX reason [ideally you’ve covered that industry in ER before]

      1. Thank you Nicole. Should I be putting this explanation in paragraph 2? Or later on in the letter?

        1. Avatar
          M&I - Nicole

          I’d probably list this later in the letter.

  21. Hi, I’m studying in the US and applying to summer IBD internship in 3 different locations (New York, London, HK), so who should I address to in my cover letter since there is only one cover letter for three different recruiters? Thanks!

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      I’d say Dear Sir/Madam or To Whom It May Concern

  22. when you express abbreviations, let’s say M&A, how do you put it in a cover letter? i.e., (“M&A”) or (M&A) without punctuations mark?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      M&A is fine I believe

  23. Hi! You mentioned that putting the name of the recruiter is always better than just a “Dear Sir/Madam”. When applying in London, do you think it is appropriate to address the cover letter to a recruiter I haven’t personally met that I just found his name via an internet search, specifically from Linkedin. Also, there are dozens recruiters for the same company on Linkedin, should I still address the letter to a specific person? What about if it is the director of HR? Should I address it to him/her directly?

    Thank you!

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Yes, I’d address the email to Director of HR. If you don’t know the person’s name, I’d say “To Whom It May Concern” or “Dear Sir/Madam”

  24. Hey, I have a question concerning applying for an internship at G&S in Europe. Instead of a cover letter they want you to submit a motivational statement with 300 words when applying, which is according to them similar to the cover letter. But I am a bit unsure that I express my motivation for applying for an investment banking postion with this cover letter because it focuses more on previous internships. Should I outline my internships and then explain that I want to pursue an career in IB because of them? and should I mention my extra curriculare activities which involve leadership experience and exotic interests?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      I’d briefly touch on your previous experience and focus on why IB, and why GS. If the previous experience can serve as your IB spark, use them. So yes you can mention that you want to pursue a career in IB because of your previous internships, but don’t dive too deep given word limit and you can address that in interviews. No, the latter part should be demonstrated on your resume, unless you have space in the statement

  25. What should you do in [Signature]?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      I’m not sure I understand your question. I’d just insert your signature there.

      1. Upload an image of your handwritten signature?

        1. Avatar
          M&I - Nicole

          Yes you can do that. Copy and paste it below “Yours sincerely/Best Regards”

  26. Hi Nicole,

    I resigned from my previous role in April this year as we were planning a family move to another country However, it did not materialize due to some unexpected changes and I have to start looking for a job again. This has left an employment gap of about 3 months in my resume. During this period, I have taken the BIWS course to enhance my knowledge. Shall I mention my current status and address that in my cover letter? or leave it out and talk about it when asked during interview?

    Thank you!

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Xavier, you can list that on your resume and cover letter. You may also want to talk about other activities you’ve done during those 3 months.

  27. Avatar
    King Kong

    Hi Nicole,

    I am a first year associate working at a boutique bank on the trading floor and trying to switch into equity research/banking side. How is the cover letter different from the cover letter template above. Do I need to specifically state why I am switching?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Yes you need to address why you’re switching

      1. Avatar
        King Kong

        Do you have any suggestions as to how I can gracefully address this? The reason why I am switching is because I don’t feel like I am learning much out of my positions – not being given much responsibilities, etc…

        Thank you!

        1. Avatar
          M&I - Nicole

          I’d focus on the positives on why you prefer the other division versus your current one; not what you’re lacking.

  28. Hi, I am wondering when introducing my skill sets and experience in the second paragraph of the cover letter, is it appropriate to use bullet points? e.g. my key skills/experience include:
    bullet point: A
    bullet point: B

    Thanks!

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Yes you can do that, though a lot of times we find that its best to follow our template, unless you’re a very experienced candidate

  29. I worked at a boutique investment bank for an internship and I was wondering how I may explain my low gpa on my cover letter. I would focus on my strengths and what I learned from the position but sooner or later the question of gpa will be addressed either during an interview or sent through email. How would I approach this?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      This may come up in interviews and I’d address it then. I am not sure why you had a low GPA. If you had family/personal reasons you can list that. Otherwise if you were taking more advanced courses because you were too ambitious and got a lower GPA as a result of that you can list that too.

  30. Hi,

    I’m applying to various finance and IB positions and my documents will be seen as a package sent through my school. I created my resume in a very similar format to the template on your website, only using .5″ margins. I have the same header layout (with name and personal info) on both my resume and cover letter. My question is regarding holding these .5″ margins on both of my documents to keep a consistent look. I’m just curious as to whether this would be a good or bad idea, or as to whether you think it would even matter.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      I haven’t seen the format of your resume so I am not 100% sure. 0.5 margins maybe a bit crowded but depending on your content it can be doable. If you have lots of solid content, yes this is applicable. Otherwise, I’d shorten your content and go for the standard margins

  31. Hey, this template isn’t just for investment banking right, it can be used for targeting internships in accounting as well? Same with the resume template?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      If you change the paragraph from why IB to why accounting, you can use this template. The resume template is tailored to IB though you can use it for Accounting roles too

  32. I graduated from a top school 1.5 years ago, but unfortunately ended up at a not so impressive bank. What’s the best way to name drop the school in the cover letter? Thanks.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      First paragraph – you can just say that you are working at XX bank and have recently graduated from XX school

  33. I am applying to three different divisions in the same investment bank that are different in nature (2 back office and one front) and there is only one cover letter for all three that asks you to describe your motivation for each. Since they are different positions, how do I go about this?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      I’d be generic and focus on why finance and how you can make an impact to the firm

  34. How about adding the recommendations from the previous job? Is it worth? Should we add it even if they do not menton about that?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      You can provide recommendations upon request

  35. Hi,
    I am wondering whether I need to include a signature in my cover letter for online application. If so, should I just insert it in the pdf document or scan a paper copy of the cover letter? Thanks!

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Yes you can include it. Both works.

      1. Thanks!

        1. Avatar
          M&I - Nicole

          Yo’re welcome.

      2. Just a follow-up question: I am applying for summer analyst position at CS, and they only allow one application per applicant. Should I use the same cover letter during campus recruiting (addressed to an alumnus) for my online application? Since I am applying to CS HK as well, I am wondering whether I should use a slightly different cover letter.

        1. Avatar
          M&I - Nicole

          Sure I think this shouldn’t be a problem. Yes the HK one should be slightly different – i.e. why HK, why Chinese market

  36. Dear M&I staff,

    I’m a master student in Europe. I’m currently attending a Master of Science in Finance after completing a bachelor in business administration. Do you have any specific suggestion about my first paragraph? Also, if I can’t find the name of the recruiter, how can I start the letter? I was thinking about expressions such as “To whom it may concern…”; does this work?

    Thanks in advance

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Yes it does, or Dear Sir/Madam.

      First paragraph – I’d follow the template on the post

      1. Dear Sir or Madam,

        My name is [Insert Name] and I am currently pursuing a Master of Science in Finance at [Insert University Name] where I have also been awarded a Bachelor of Science with honors.
        How would this sound?

        1. Avatar
          M&I - Nicole

          Sounds good, though I’d probably just use My name is [Insert Name] and I am currently pursuing a Master of Science in Finance at [Insert University].

  37. Hey Brian/Nicole,
    Thank you guys so much for this website. I spend days on it reading your articles! lol
    I’m just wondering when I do the name-dropping on the cover letter, is it alright to put the company names in bold? or is that too much? What do you guys think?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Thank you for your kind comment. You should credit Brian for his hard work! I don’t think its necessary to bold company names. I think its probably better to leave it “unbolded.”

  38. Avatar
    Wild bill

    Thank you

  39. i a lil older i was originally an engineering major, left school (didnt graduate), started working as a stock broker, then mortgage broker, and then more sales background. I then re entered school and graduated with a degree with finance, gpa not so high bc of past screw ups, but now looking to break into finance. I love finance, and cant figure out how to convey that in a cover letter. can you help?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Focus on the impact you’ve made in your previous roles. Then say while you’ve enjoyed and learn a lot from your previous experience, you realize [Talk about your IB spark here], and that you realize you wanted to pursue IB because [XYZ]. Then say that you’re confident that your [XX] skills can be an invaluable asset to the firm (something around those lines)

  40. Avatar
    Harbhajan Singh

    Hi,

    If I’m applying for a job based on an online job posting (LinkedIn / other job board), then in my 1st paragraph, ho would you address the section about how you learnt about the job / company ?

    (I find it awkward to say that “I recently learnt about your company through your online ad on abc.com”)

    ThankX Guys!

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      I recently learned about your company from [a contact/an event/an online job posting] and was impressed with what I learned of [List what you’re impressed with here]

      1. Avatar
        Harbhajan Singh

        Hey Nicole,

        Thanks for your reply.

        I’m finding it awkward to write “I learnt about your company from an online job posting” bcoz I feel it sounds like I did not know them before seeing the posting (which, in turn, sounds insulting for the company).

        Instead, can I just say “I recently found out about the XYZ position at ABC Capital & want to apply for this position”?

        Thank you.

        1. Avatar
          M&I - Nicole

          Sure, this sounds good. No, this isn’t insulting – this is why companies post on job postings! It is best if you have already spoken to people at the company and use that as an intro. line.

  41. please i am an undergraduate in my final year with just one internship experience and one teaching experience, that was before i gained admission. i want to know if it is appropriate to include my date of birth and list of referees; i will also like to know the maximum length of resume ideal for some one in my category.
    Thanks.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Please see https://www.mergersandinquisitions.com/investment-banking-resume-university-student/

      No, I don’t think you need to include your DOB and list of referees. Maximum length of your resume would be 1 page.

  42. Hi Brian, thanks so much for creating this awesome website.

    I’m a year one student in a non-target uni in HK who’s interested in IBD. My first semester GPA wasn’t stellar because I had a hard time balancing family issues and adapting to a new country.

    I’m currently applying for several pre-internship programs, and am afraid my less-than-3 GPA will cause my immediate disqualification. What can I do?

    I’ve had several leadership positions in high school, am great at networking/socializing, and speak a few languages. But my first semester GPA is lackluster. Please advice, should I explain in my cover letter?

    Best Regards,
    Sara

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Yes, your GPA is likely to be alarming to interviewers. Sure, you can explain the above on your cover letter, though I would focus on your strengths and what you have achieved first. You want to draw people to your strengths. I’d also try as hard as you can to boost your GPA next semester and craft a very good explanation when you land interviews.

  43. Hey there M&I,

    Firstly, I’d just like to thank you for this template – it truly is priceless.

    I’m from Melbourne, Australia and I’d like to break into Investment Banking for a long-term career.

    I’m starting a Bachelor of Commerce degree at The University of Melbourne and I was thinking of double majoring in Accounting and Finance.

    I feel as though this will put me in a good position for Investment Banking and will also provide me with a few alternatives should I be unable to make it to Investment Banking or decide that it’s not for me.

    Sorry about the long-winded explanation, I guess what I want to know is whether or not the double major sequence I have suggested is desirable in Investment Banking or there is a better sequence you could suggest to me.

    Also, what do you have to say about people getting summer internships after first year? I haven’t heard of anyone doing this before, but have you? How should I go about trying to increase my chances?

    Thanks very much!

    1. Thanks. Yes, that sequence is fine but I don’t know if it would give you an advantage. From what I understand about Australia, I believe most people who get into banking there actually have dual Commerce and Law degrees.

      Summer internships after year 1: very tough. You’d have to aim for small local firms. And probably not common in Australia.

  44. Hi,

    I’m applying to a Private Equity internship and I completed the BIWS fundamental and advanced modeling courses. Should I talk about this in my cover letter? Right now I just have a general statement about it and that I worked on some case studies.I was wondering whether I should go more in depth and mention a specific case? Leave it as a general statement? Or take it out completely

    1. Yes, definitely mention the specific case studies as that makes it sound much better than just saying you completed the courses.

      Document for listing them on your resume (you may be able to apply parts of this):

      http://biws-support.s3.amazonaws.com/BIWS-Courses-Resume-Instructions.docx

      1. Thanks Brian,

        I took your advice and mentioned specific case studies.

        One other thing, currently in the second paragraph of my cover letter I talk a lot about my internship experience, but this internship doesn’t have to do with IB, its accounting and sales for a hotel. I did spin it in away that says that I picked up skills from this internship that I can apply to IB, PE, etc. Should I focus less about this and more on the BIWS courses, and projects in school I worked on since it doesn’t directly relate?

        Thanks,

        Levin

        1. I would probably do an even split in that case.

  45. Hi,

    I found this guide and template very useful. I was wondering, though, if I were to apply online to bb investment banks that didn’t make any meeting at my university and require a cover letter, what should I write in:
    “I was recently introduced to your firm
    via [Friend / Contact at Firm / Presentation] and was impressed with what I learned of [Your Culture / Working Environment / Bank-Specific Info.].”

    I know about these banks just because of their fame, so should I just skip this part?

    Thanks!

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Sure though having this line may be more convincing.

  46. Hi,

    I am now applying to Société Générale M&A summer internship in Power, Utilities and Infrastructure department. I tried to find some alumni working there. I could manage to find one via linkedin; however, i cannot contact him because he sets a permission. I wonder what should i write on cover letter if i can’t find a contact in SG?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Dear Sir or Madam / [Name of Recruiter if you have it]

      1. Dear Nicole,

        I feel sorry not to explain it clearly.

        Quoted from the IB template: ” I was recently introduced to your firm via [Friend / Contact at Firm / Presentation] and was impressed with what I learned of [Your Culture / Working Environment / Bank-Specific Info.] ”

        I searched SG career website but they mention the work environment and culture very vague. I tried to find an alumni working there; however,the alumni office hasn’t replied me yet.Even worse, SG hasn’t held any campaign event at our uni. At present moment,I can’t manage to get a contact at firm. I did search they have an aggressive expansion plan for the department 2 years ago. Should I mention this instead?

        Much thanks

        1. Avatar
          M&I - Nicole

          It would help if you have spoken to a contact who is working/worked there or attending one of their info sessions. Otherwise, yes it may be useful to mention of their department’s aggressive expansion plan.

  47. Hi! What if I have not attended any presentation and I do not know nobody that work in a specific bank? Can I still apply online? I am applying to investment banks in London and I know that they recruit using the online application process.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Yes you can still apply online.

      1. Hi Nicole/Brian,

        Adding to what Paolo has mentioned, what about the cover letter? Since we do not know anybody that work in that specific bank (nor attend any presentations), who do we address the cover letter to? (Or is it better not to submit one if the cover letter is optional?)

        Secondly, is it alright to say that we found out about the job/vacancy by browsing through their website?

        Again, thanks for your continuous kind support.

        Regards,
        Rifki

        1. Quoting from the article:

          “If you don’t have this information you can just list the company name and address and use a ‘Dear Sir or Madam” greeting.’ ”

          If it’s optional, I wouldn’t even bother submitting it especially if you don’t know anyone there. Yes saying you saw it through a website is OK.

          1. Thanks Brian!

  48. I’ve just graduated in Finance and Accounting but wasn’t able to get summer internships in my 2nd year.
    What else can I write in section 2+3? I’ve got work experience in wholesale, an accounting firm and an insight day at a Merrill Lynch which were just before I started uni, i.e. 2009 can I still use these in this section or would it look bad since they are old?

    I’ve taken part in many trading simulation games in teams etc which show all the skills you have mentioned in the paragraph, would it be acceptable to use this as an example even though it was a simulation?

    Thanks

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      They wouldn’t look bad but not exactly current. Ideal if you have recent experiences to list. Otherwise you can list them

      Yes – show the returns you generated

  49. Hi,

    Thanks for the useful resources.

    Last year, I hadn’t as much insight and experience with IB (I was coming from law and bearely started to study a MSc-Finance in a good school). I still got two interviews with a nice boutique and a bb. I got reject at the final round.

    This year I’m applying again (I’m currently doing an off cycle M&A internship)

    1. Shall I mention I applied last year, and why I like the firm so much? or shall I just make a regular cover letter and avoid to mention I applied a year ago?

    2. How many interviews should I go through to secure an offer, or what is the average? I’d like to know whether I am doing something bad or just if it is because you need to go through several interviews to finally get something?

    3. What would shall I do with the current market if I secure another off cycle internship or a full time M&A position in a leading law firm? (I prefer finance than law, but I m getting old and need to start working as oppose to “intern”)

    Sorry for this long thread, thanks for your help.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      1. you can mention it if you want though I don’t think its necessary
      2. hard to say – depends on you. people generally go through more than several rounds of interviews to land an offer
      3. network a lot

  50. Hi,

    Thanks for the useful resources.

    Last year, I hadn’t as much insight and experience in IB profiles (I am coming from law and bearely started to study a MSc-Finance in a good school). I still got two interviews with a nice boutique and a bb. I got reject at the final round.

    This year I’m applying again (I’m currently doing an off cycle M&A internship)

    — Shall I mention I applied last year, and why I like the firm so much

  51. Hi, I have an upcoming interview with a bulge bracket bank in Capital Markets. I submitted my resume about 1 month ago and got selected recently. My resume was updated recently and is much much more in depth than before. Should I reach out to the recruiters and ask if I can have them replace the resume on the website with my new one? Or would this be frowned upon? Thanks!

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Yes, please do that!

  52. Hi!

    Thank you for your tips, they are great!I have two questions:

    1. All templates I find are about experienced people. If you are a person with no experience (or with a very short experience in a different area), how can you turn this fact around and convince someone to hire you? Should you really emphasize your academic background?

    2. I started a PhD but early on I realized that it was not the right fit for me. How and where should I mention this? Should I explain why? I am afraid that no one will be considering me for a job position because I am quitting the PhD…

    Thank you so much!

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      1. There are templates for inexperienced hires – pls look for the one for undergraduates. If you have NO work experience at all, I’d suggest you to emphasize your academic background and extracurricular activities.
      2. Explain this on your cover letter & interviews. No, it shouldn’t be a problem if you know how to spin your story. Most jobs don’t require a PhD these days anyway.

  53. Hi,
    Thank you very much for uploading the template.

    But what if I don’t have background info or experiences specific to the investment banking industry even though I have banking experience in a different field such as Loan Officer? Will that matter?

    I will be considered as a fresher in that case how can I convince anybody about changing my profession to investment banker or wealth management analyst from this profession?

    And can you also please help me with a sample C.V for freshers in Invest and Wealth Management.

    I do have an MBA in finance.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      You’ll have to figure out why IB and pitch your story well.

      You can use the same template for Wealth Management – just focus on your research and investment experience

  54. I’m planning to use this short cover letter as my email body. My question : “Should I opt for a longer version with more elaborate details?”


    Dear Sir/ Madam [or the recruiter’s name],

    I would like to express my interest in a position as [position] for [company].

    As you may perceive from my summary, I’ve been leveraging my consulting and technical skills from my previous career as an IT Consultant to break into the finance industry. Thus, I’m adapt at translating clients’ problems into a satisfying, concrete solution. I also possess good leadership skill and can work well with others. [ + other skills the company valued / demanded for this specific job]

    I would love to expand my career with your company, and am confident that I would be a beneficial addition to your company. I have enclosed my resume and I would welcome a personal interview at your earliest convenience.

    Sincerely,

    [Name and contact address]

    Any input would be greatly appreciated. Thanks

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      I’d keep your email short, sweet and succinct. Anything longer than that is too much.

  55. Hello, my question is regarding the introduction —

    “Paragraph 1: Introduction
    This is where you explain who you are, where you’re currently working or studying, and how you found the bank that you’re applying to.”

    I have nearly 2 years of consulting experience, but have recently been laid off. Since I’m no longer working or studying, how would I approach this as far as introduction?

    Thank you.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Just introduce yourself and tell interviewer you’ve been laid off due to the lackluster economy – they should understand. Tell them what you’ve been doing with your free time i.e. traveling, studying, picking up a new hobby, etc. As long as you sound like you are doing something productive/interesting with your life, you should be fine

  56. Avatar
    ErrorFree?

    Errors – If there are minor typos that most people don’t see at a glance, are you in the clear? I’m not sure if people read cover letters that closely especially during OCR when hundreds of people apply at the same time from one school.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      It depends on whether your reviewer is attentive to details or not!

  57. Hi,

    I don’t exactly have a stellar GPA, so I was wondering if the cover letter is where I would explain myself? Or is it better to just not mention it? Thanks! And love this website!

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      It depends why you don’t have a stellar GPA – if you have a legit reason i.e. you had sick parents you needed to take care of etc I think it would help

  58. Hi,

    Thanks for the article. I just had a quick question. I was originally interested in marketing and completed two internships my freshman year undergraduate (currently a junior applying for summer analyst positions). Since then I have had several research internships. Would it be a good idea what lead my decision to go from marketing to banking in my cover letter?

    Any input would be awesome. Thanks!

    1. Yes I would explain why you changed your mind in your cover letter and point to a specific person/incident

  59. Avatar
    FrankTheTank

    I am studying at a “frontier market” university and am currently an exchange student at a highly ranked (Top 100) universities.

    Should I use an exchange studies university in a cover letter instead of a university where I’ll be graduating and mention it accordingly (I am currently an exchange student at…)?

    Thanks

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      No, I think you should still use the university where you’ll be graduating

    2. Avatar
      lil'blankfein

      ha frontier market. I am putting where I am an exchange student with the frontier school I attend.

  60. Hi,

    I’m applying for an internship in the US, but I’m studying in Germany. Should I mention that my University/Business School, is one of the best business schools in Germany?

    Thank you for your answer!

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      I don’t think it makes a difference. You could try but reviewers might not necessarily care too much re that

  61. Hi, thanks so much for this article. I am writing a cover letter to J.P. Morgan, but I cannot find the office address in HK, shall I omit it at the top?

  62. Hi,
    Thank you very much for uploading the template.

    But what if I don’t have background info or experiences specific to the investment banking industry? does that automatically rule me out as a candidate even though they specify that finance background is not necessary?

    Could I simply emphasize my skills and abilities that I have gained through other experiences such as working for an NGO?

    Thanks!

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Not necessarily.

      Yes.

  63. Hi,

    just one other quick question.
    At Goldman Sachs, one could apply for internship in several divisions and they have asked motivation for applying to different divisions. Would it make this impression that you yourself do not know what division is right for you when you make applications for several divisions?
    Thanks a lot.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      With Goldman, yes. However, in a way you still need to hedge your bets because one division’s MD might like you and the other’s MD might not.

  64. Hi,

    I’ve shown my CL to the Head of HR in my firm and he adviced me to write something “catching” as a title between the date and “Dear Sir or Madam,..”. So do you think it would be okay to write there: “Why I am a good fit for taking part in your spring programme”? Or does this sound too arrogant?

    Thanks a lot!
    Jevira

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      This sounds generic.

      1. Have you got another idea or just put there: Spring Programme at XYZ. :D
        Thanks, and sorry for the time you lose with all my questions..

        1. Avatar
          M&I - Nicole

          Come up w something original he said right? I don’t know if the above is original. You should just ask him what his suggestions are. I’d love to help but I need to think through it and have to look at your CL; wouldn’t be fair to other customers who are paying for our CL editing service.

  65. Hello,

    Thanks very much for your helps. I have a few questions and I would greatly appreciate if you could help me. I am doing a double degree master in Complex Systems Science (A multidisciplinary field), so I have studied one year at Warwick, UK and now I am studying the second year at Ecole Polytechnique, France.
    1) Should I mention anywhere that I have had a multidisciplinary approach since in my field I have to interact with people with completely diverse backgrounds, from Physics and math to economics and Philosophy?
    2)I have got a full scholarship from European commission for my studies. How should I mention it?
    3)I think many people are not very acquainted with the structure of such joint programs between two universities in two different countries. In my CV, shall I mention it as two masters and not saying that they are in fact joint?
    4)My master thesis has been about financial contagion and I do not have ant job or internship opportunity, so how should I write the second paragraph?

    Thanks in advance and sorry it becomes too long.
    Mostafa

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      1. Not sure how you will be wording this one. Difficult to use this to stand out
      2. Yes
      3. No, put joint but you can separate the two in diff lines
      4. Can’t help you on this one.

  66. Hi, it’s me again. Does this template also apply for online applications where you have to upload the cover letter? Or can my personal adress, the banks adress and the date can be removed withous replacement?

    Thanks!

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Yes these templates apply to online apps too

      No, I don’t think you should remove the details you mentioned

  67. Hi,

    I’m a first year university student in the UK, and looking to apply to a spring division internship at Goldman Sachs (and probably many others in the near future).

    I have litte actual experience in terms of working for firms, but have competed in many stock market challenges/competitions, and I have come to university a year early, having been moved up a year.

    Clearly with my lack of experience, I will need to slightly change the template you have provided above; how would you recommend I do this?

    Many thanks.

    1. +1

      I nearly asked the same thing – but my question didn’t even appear.

    2. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      You should elaborate on your stock market challenges/competitions

      1. Is it okay to write under my asset mgmnt firm that I “increased producivity of checking several entries by about 60%”? It was an excelsheet with about 120 rows in which I had to find the entries which were more than once in these rows. (it was an excel formula I made for that).

        Or does it sound ridiculous?

        1. Oh, its in the CV, not the cover letter.

        2. Avatar
          M&I - Nicole

          yes it does sounds a bit ridiculous and monotonous. Sorry.

          1. So I’ll delete :) Thanks. Its very difficult to boost your CV.

          2. btw: may I send you, Nicole, my CV that you could look over that? You see my email adress, i guess. I’d really appreciate it! Thinking, that it sounds “too” ridiculous…

          3. We’re not offering resume editing at the moment but will be introducing it shortly, so you can watch for that announcement.

          4. What does “shortly” mean? Within this month? And will it be free? If not, how much would it cost? If you’re launching in the very near future, please reserve one place for me :-).

            Thanks

          5. Avatar
            M&I - Nicole

            Haha yes but not free. Sure.

  68. Hi Brian,

    Thanks for your work!

    My question is that if I apply for some regions where original language is not English i.e. China, Japan, will it be ok I send a 2-page resume/cl with one in English and another Chinese/Japanese/whatever? or seperately in 2 .pdfs?

    Thanks again

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      No. Not necessary. Just send a one-page resume in English

      1. If bilingual required?

        1. Avatar
          M&I - Nicole

          No still submit one pager unless they ask

          1. Thanks Nicole.

            Another not-related question, do you think that a 4-month full time internship in PE department of commercial banks, say, standard chartered, strong enough to pass the summer/FT online selection? prior to that i had internship in big-4. a senior in university and will pursue a finance master degree right after. thanks

          2. Avatar
            M&I - Nicole

            Should do but again it depends on what position you are interviewing for and which division you are looking at. Also depends on who is screening you..However, I believe your experience should suffice

  69. Do you think sending a cover letter with a CV directly to the Head of investment banking dpt is inappropriate? The bank is hiring (according to website). Sent my CV to HR a month ago, no responce.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Sure, just send him a brief email and your resume. No point in sending a cover letter – address what you need to say briefly on the email

  70. What is your opinion about listing client names. Obviously working in a deal situation it would not be acceptable to mention a client name and the transaction itself if this is not public but in my case I have done a lot of work which didn’t result in deals however I am quite keen on mentionning the clients as I have worked with many PE and large Corporate clients. Is it fine to write: “selected list of clients: A,B,C,D,E…

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Why would you want to use names there? Just for more credibility when you discuss deals? I would still avoid using names if possible for dead deals. You can still mention that you’ve worked with some big PE names such as X but I wouldn’t go into details; pretend deal is still ongoing even if it died, and leave out the names.

      https://www.mergersandinquisitions.com/why-investment-banking-deals-fail/

  71. You do such a great service for idiots like me!Keep it up.

  72. Hi! For my motivation letter, which the company requires on their application website, shouldn’t I just say I like money and that I want to work for their company because I would like to earn a lot? Or should I go with the “It’s my passion… I like to be challenged… I’d like to contribute innovations for the growth of the business…” bits? Thank you!

    1. applications for bulge brackets. thanks!

    2. Um #2, always

      1. Okay, thanks!

  73. Hi Brian,

    I am beginning to write my cover letter for a number of boutique banks in the fall to apply for analyst positions. What do I if I don’t know anyone at the firm and can’t namedrop a presentation I attended (1st paragraph)? Can I just say

    “My name is John Smith, and I am a recent graduate of Fordham University (Class of 2011). I am interested in applying for an analyst position at XYZ firm”

    Is there anything else I can add to the first paragraph to flesh out my cover letter a bit? Thank you very much and keep up the good work!

    1. That’s fine

  74. Hi, I recently switched to a major in economics from engineering. The engineering curriculum at my school is very challenging and had a negative impact on my GPA over my freshman/sophomore year (3.4 currently). Would it be appropriate to list that I was previously an engineering major on my resume to reflect the challenging curriculum I was previously engaged in?

    1. Yes that’s a good idea or at least reflect coursework on there

  75. Thanks for the cover letter and resume templates, they’re really helpful. A friend of mine used your templates to score a summer internship in corporate finance advisory at a big four company in london and I was able to score a SA offer in the IBD of a BB firm in frankfurt, germany. we’re both germans btw.

    depending on how fulltime recruiting develops we should set something up for a “breaking into IB in europe”-feature if you see the demand for this. So long, Nick

    1. Congrats, interesting to hear that it works in other countries. There are a few articles on Europe (UK, Germany, Italy) already but could use more if you have a unique angle.

  76. Avatar
    banker to be

    A company was recruiting at my college, and all they asked for was for us to send them a 1-page motivational letter? Any idea what I can include in the letter? Eg, why me? Why should I get the offer? Why should I get the bursary? My strengths and weaknesses?

    They don’t want a cv, they just want a motivational letter. I’m not too sure what to include in it. Any help would be appreciated.

    Thank-you

    1. I would just follow the cover letter template here and expand on it a bit… don’t go into strengths/weaknesses, just follow the outline above.

  77. Thanks Brian for putting up such a nice website and sharing valuable stuff with us aspirers. I might be using a wrong space to look for your suggestions anyways here I go. My challenge here is to make a successful transition from a business development/ strategy side (prior 3 yrs of exp. with a commercial bank) to IB. Being done an MBA recently from a decent B school in UK where I gained the required skill sets for IB, I was targeting at BB which doesnot seems to be working out my way so I m considering the small boutiques as well to start with.
    I thought a good cover letter can win recruiters attention in my case. Any advice on the approach I should carry to enter into IB & put my prior experience into use to encash it is highly appreciated.

    Thanks!!

    1. If you do a search for “Networking” and “Cold-calling” you’ll see the most helpful advice – cover letters do not make a difference, focus on your cold-calling and networking skills and do not give up until you try hundreds of places.

  78. Avatar
    quiksliver

    is it okay to put stuff on your resume you don’t mention in your cover letter? or should your resume ONLY include stuff from your cover letter?

    1. It’s fine, you can’t even mention everything in the cover letter anyway

  79. Hi,

    In the 3rd paragraph you explained that we should say something along the lines of “I am impressed by your track record of clients and transactions at Goldman Stanley…”

    This is obviously a great way to tailor your cover letter, but I was wondering where you find out information of transactions. I’ve found some doing a simple Google search, but is there an independent authority that tracks all of these? As well, how do you know which transactions to mention? The ones that the firm is particularly proud of or ground-breaking?

    Thanks!

    1. Use the WSJ Deal Journal or NYT Dealbook to find recent deals they’ve done, anything sizable or significant e.g. the Goldman / Facebook deal

  80. Hi,

    I realized I made a grammatical error in the last paragraph of my cover letter today. I never noticed it before and I’ve sent it to three places already, one BB and two boutiques. Big deal?

    Thanks.

    1. No, no one reads cover letters anyway

  81. Hi,

    Firstly thanks for the website, it’s great.

    My question is: in most summer IB internships, they ask several cover letter-like questions like “In 250 words max, describe your career aspirations” etc., however there’s usually an option to upload a cover letter as well. Would you advise keeping it concise or would you include examples of IB-related things, adapted to the question, despite the fact you’re effectively rewriting the cover letter?

    This is in UK by the way.

    Thanks in advance.

    1. Just keep it concise – competency questions are not a big factor vs. CV/interviews.

  82. Thank you for the template.

    Quick questions:

    Should we use the email format for a doostang message as well?

    -mo

    1. No keep it way shorter like 2-3 sentences maybe

  83. Dear M&I,

    I guess I’m the most complicated case here. I’m currently doing BA in Art History and Italian at UCL, London, now doing my Erasmus in Italy. However, last summer I worked as a M&A Summer Analyst in a small boutique bank specializing in cross-border M&As. There, I started from scratch, with no finance experience/knowledge, but learnt a lot and had lots of hands-on experience, since the company was really small and I was involved in literally everything.

    I’m applying for summer internships in large investment banks and about to start writing my cover letters. I assume I must explain myself for studying Art History & Italian and my out-of-the-blue interest in I-Banking, plus use my last summer experience as a selling point. Any other specific hints?

    Thanks in advance for your help!

    1. Well, why did you work there? What made you interested in doing that? Reference a specific person or if nothing comes to mind use something from the news or your background e.g. I was always really interested in Italy and the UK and got interested in finance as a result of [xx] so I wanted to explore cross-border M&A and leverage my skills/interests like that.

  84. Hi,
    I have completed my masters in Drug Discovery and Translational Biology. But currently I am planning to apply for any investment banking positions. As I don’t have any background or experience in the given field, i don’t what to write in the 2nd and 3rd paragraph.

    Can you please help me,

    Thanks in advance

    1. Talk about the analytical skills you gained and how they apply, or the leadership / project management skills or anything else like that from previous internships or school.

  85. Hey guys, this letter just repeats what is inside the Resume anyway. What is the additional value for the potential employer to read this kind of resume? There are no additional information. Wouldnt it be better to wite about your motiviation, your personal (not work) background, and reasons to chose this department/bank ? Or would it harm to do this?

    Furthermore, the letter includes the information about resume enclosure 3(!) times. I like this site but this template really does not look too promising for me!

    1. So don’t use it? The point is that no one reads cover letters, but in case they do, you don’t want to screw up by saying anything controversial or anything that could be misinterpreted.

      If you start writing your personal story, bankers might mistake it for a soap opera script rather than cover letter.

      Cover letters have no value at all, but just like grades if you screw one up it could hurt you. This template is intentionally boring and gives very little information because otherwise people would download this and insert pictures of unicorns, write about their past relationships, and other nonsense.

      1. Great comment, made me laugh

  86. Do you recommend being creative in cover letters, ie varying sentence structure, using big/expressive words ?

    1. No, creativity is for marketing or poetry – this is finance.

  87. Hi Brian,

    I’m a US student currently at Oxford for my junior year. All the applications for the UK offices are online. I know you have already answered the question before, but I don’t want to make any mistakes. So just to clarify:

    1. Omit the physical addresses, mine as well as theirs.
    2. Omit the recruiters name leaving only the name of the bank
    3. Omit the signature
    4. Do not enclose resume since that is a separate attachment

    Thanks so much in advance.

  88. Hie ,i realy luv ur advice!.,Im doing a Bsc in Financial modelling with UNISA.is this a good start for a career in investment banking?.i finish next year, could u tell wat i can do to make myself marketable after graduation.

    1. Honestly, I’m not sure on that one because I’m not familiar with the school. If a lot of banks recruit there, it’s fine; otherwise you should transfer elsewhere.

      1. Its University of SouthAfrica ,im also staying in Africa.is there something i could do 2 giv me an added advantage over my coleagues?.

  89. Hey M&I,

    What’s your take on headlines (i.e.Application for IB Analyst) and postscripts? I’ve heard from many friends to add them on because they will grab attention. But then again, they aren’t going into banking.

    Thanks,
    Mack

    1. Not applicable for banking

  90. Hi,

    i will be applying to merrill lynch. In the template, you stated many of the internship and job roles that provide the skills required to be a great investment analyst. However, i was just wondering, if i have a perfect gpa, perfect sats score, how can i use these to my advantage in my cover letter?

    1. You can’t really, just list them and be done with it – no point in trying to emphasize those because there’s not much to say and they speak for themselves.

  91. Hi,
    If the firm’s online application says “you can only attach one file: this should contain your CV, cover letter and any other materials relevant for the position”, does it mean in the word document file I upload, the 1st page is resume, the 2nd page is cover letter and the 3rd is transcript? It looks pretty strange because the document is gonna be 4-5 pages. But since they only allow me to upload one file, I’m not sure what to do with the cover letter and the transcript. Or can I just omit them and attach the resume document only? Thanks a ton.

    1. I would not send the transcript unless they specifically ask for it, otherwise just create a 2-page file with your cover letter and CV

  92. Hey guys,

    First of all, great website! It’s really helpful and I think you guys are doing a great job.

    I am visually impaired, however I have always followed regular education and have performed like anybody else (also in jobs, at associations, etc). Many banks stress their emphasis on diversity and now I am wondering if I should include this fact in my cover letter / online application?
    On the one hand I feel it would fit great into the whole “what are you most proud of”-question, but I am also scared it might work against me?

    Please note I’m applying London, not NY. (I think European regulations might differ from US-ones). I go to a European target school.

    Thanks!

    1. Personally I would not list it on your CV / cover letter / online application, but maybe bring it up in an interview if it fits in naturally.

  93. Avatar
    LBObuyout

    Hi Brian, I was beginning to start writing coverletters–atleast get them going, but I’m confused on where to find the unique strength of each BB, which makes it diff from its competitions. One of the things which makes a good cover letter is that its specific to a firm, but I dont know how to find such information. For instance, I was looking at MS, Barclays website in the section ,’Why MS’ or ‘Why Barclays’, and it seems every firm had the same agenda. We are committed to diversity , team player etc. Obv I need to go into more depth than this. Brian where I can find information specific to each BB on their website? I would really appreciate it. Thanks a lot.

    1. You should read the WSJ Deal Journal blog and look for recent mentions of the bank and what deals they have been advising on – then reference those in the cover letter.

      1. Hi Brian,
        I’m in a similar position as the above poster. For companies without a personal contact I want to talk about a specific deal they’ve advised on.

        I’m just unsure how to formulate such a sentence without encouraging diffcult to answer questions.

        E.g. I was thinking of something along the lines of “I was impressed with your company’s role as target advisor in the $X bn acquisition of companyX”

        I’m afraid this would result in the question of ‘why were you impressed?’.

        Any chance you could give a sample sentence of how you would talk about a deal in a cover letter?

        Thanks
        Ben

        P.S.: Keep up the good work with BIWS, love the constant updates. Highly recommended, well worth the money!

        1. You can say something like “I recently saw news of your role as an advisor in the $X bn acquisition of company X and was immediately interested, since I’ve followed the [X] industry for awhile.”

  94. Hi, I graduated from a target, went to medical school after graduation, but left after two years to pursue a career in investment banking. I now work at a small investment research firm, and I am applying for 2011 analyst class.

    How much “explanation” do I need to do in cover letter? Or should I just focus on my job experience and modeling skills?

    Thanks

    1. I don’t think you need much explanation since you quit medicine after 2 years, so just focus on other aspects

  95. Is the physical address at the top still necessary if you’re attaching the cover letter as a .PDF in an online form?

  96. I can’t thank you enough for all these info Brian,

    In all honesty, I did have a sudden family death last year for which I had to leave school in the middle of the semester and come back after about two weeks. I got in a lot of psychological stress and uncertainty and I ended up messing up my grades significantly for two semesters. However, I did improve last semester with a full workload (maximum number of credit hours allowed at my school + advanced level classes) and got near 4.0.

    How should I mention this on my cover letter? Also, how would I do that on an electronic cover letter which should only be about 4-5 sentences?

    Thanks again in advance.

    1. I would just say you had a health issue and had trouble balancing everything, but quickly learned your lesson and received perfect grades right after that. Giving a family excuse sounds fake so I would probably not write that even if it’s true.

      1. Thanks but the thing is that wasn’t my freshman year. It was my sophomore year. So I did well my freshman year than poorly as a sophomore and improved as a junior.

        Also, what about the electronic cover letter? Would it be ok to take up some sentences to explain my situation?

        1. Just say you did poorly “at first” and then improved and have perfect grades this past year. I would still keep your cover letter short as no one has time to read a lot.

  97. Avatar
    Hausdorff

    Dear M&I,

    I would appreciate your advice on this.

    I’m a senior at a target school in Far East Asia. It’s really tough to get into a BB here and I’m thinking of visiting each BB and handing them my resume and cover letter to ask for a junior equity research position. I doubt I’d be able to personally meet the head of research or a senior analyst without prior arrangement, so I’d be probably handing my resume and cover letter to HR. I need to stand out but I have no equity research internship experience. What I do have, is a equity S&T internship at a BB and a RA (intern) at a top-tier mgmt. consulting firm. Plus experience managing a personal portfolio and trading derivatives in notable amounts.

    Now, my problem is this. I made it to the final round for a junior ER position at GS but unfortunately was not given the offer (the offer ended up going to someone with some full-time experience in ER; had I been competing against fresh-out-of-college candidates would the result have been different?). I would like to mention this in my resume or cover letter hoping that it would serve as evidence that I’m really interested in ER and that I have the potential. But I’m worried that this might send the wrong signal. Who would like to accept a candidate knowing that he was unsuccessful elsewhere? I’m worried that I might appear arrogant in their eyes. I’m thinking of visiting CS, UBS, Citi, MS, ML, JPM, etc. In ER here in Asia, they’re at least at par with GS if not better…

    I realize that answer to this may depend on the culture here.
    Please advise. Thanks.

    1. I would not mention an unsuccessful interview with GS for the reasons you mentioned.

  98. Hi Brian! Long time reader, first time poster. I’m currently a rising senior at a target school on the tale end of my internship at a strong boutique bank in New York. I only have one week left, and I’ve been given zero modeling opportunities. I’m very disappointed. I figure that I should ask for some modeling work. But I have some questions.

    1) Does it reflect poorly in interviews for full-time that I didn’t do any modeling? Should I “stretch” the truth?

    2) Do you have any other relevant comments about doing a junior year internship and not getting any modeling experience? I’m concerned with how this hurts my full-time credentials, how this might affect my resume, and how overall my standing will decrease relative to my peers because I didn’t get modeling experience.

    1. It’s quite common not to have modeling experience… just say you did research and assisted with potential clients / potential buy-side deals but don’t say anything about modeling. Most people do no modeling in their internships so it doesn’t matter much anyway.

  99. Avatar
    charlieEe

    Hey,

    What’s a better part-time fall internship, BB PWM or no-name boutique (I mean no name.. say 3-7 employees)?

    Thanks

    1. Both are about the same, but the boutique is better for your resume because you can write “Investment Banking Analyst”

  100. off-topic question:

    I often read though it’s June interviews are still taking place.

    When do banks in America/Europe begin accepting applications for:
    1) summer interns (analyst)
    2) full-time (analyst/associate)

    Is the end of a summer intern equivalent to the end of the full-time offer application period? Because ppl. might are offered a full-time offer after their summer intern.

    To put it in a nutshell: When is recruting/application time generally?

    Thanks

    1. Summer interns are December/January, full-time is August-September.

      1. And when do you start as summer intern, when u successfully applied in dec/jan or successfully applied for aug/sep?

        Thx!

        1. Summer interns usually start in June

  101. This post reminded me of the classic cover letter to Lehman that was on Leveraged Sellout. I tried to see it, but it appears LSO has shutdown. Is this the case? Are the days of re-reading the same, hilarious stories over?

    1. I don’t know because it’s not my site, but yes it appears to be down. Maybe check the google cache.

  102. Dear M&I,

    Thanks for the release of this article, much appreciated.

    Curious on an unrelated question though, when you try to develop relationships with bankers and do the initial outreach to set up an information interview, how far ahead should you plan? I mean should you give them dates within the week you email, 2 weeks ahead, etc?

    Also, for specific time slots you ask for, what time is it usually best for a banker to talk to someone about that? Like early morning, late night, right after lunch, etc?

    Thanks again,
    H

    1. Give dates within the next 1.5 weeks so they have a few days to respond. Usually right after lunch is best for bankers, for traders you have to call after market hours are over

  103. Hi Brian,
    Thanks for the website, I have a quick question for you. I am in one of the new Masters in Finance/Management programs. I am at a target school for undergrad/MBA (think UNC/Duke/UVA). However, since the program is very new, banks don’t know much about it. Aditionally, although I have had some Wealth Management internship experience, I don’t have an I-Banking internship.

    Given my situation, do you think it is better for me (in terms of B-school and exit opportunities) to go into a top ten consulting firm (excluding MBB) or try for mid-market/boutique investment banks (My school is very good in placing people in consulting), assuming I don’t get into a BB. I ultimately want to end up in PE or HF (preferably PE).

    Thanks for your help.

    1. I would still say banking because consulting –> PE is very tough unless you go for firms like Golden Gate Capital that hire a lot of ex-consultants… and even there they’re mostly from MBB. Much easier to go from smaller bank –> PE than to go from smaller consulting firm –> PE.

  104. Should I mention the fact that my company is in F500? It’s know in Europe, but I doubt it is known in North America.

    1. You can add it in, yes

  105. I don’t have any inside experience about the recruiting process, but a friend/colleague of mine (BB) mentioned that while recruiting for regional european branches/off-cycle internships often look at the cover letter, they almost never do it for summer positions in London.

    1. Everyone seems to have different stories re: cover letters, but they are certainly less important than resumes, networking, or interviews

  106. What about for laterals?

    1. Same template applies but talk about how your previous banking experience applies to the new position you’re applying for

  107. Excellent!

    I appreciate your template for its compactness, I understand I shouldnt overestimate the competition, but Im trying to sell myself to the recruiter, so simply mentioning my skills and experience will not differentiate me from the “competitor”…?

    I personally dont have so much experience in the finance realm (although Im genuinely interested in it and have managed to get a ten day insight into a BB) so do you encourage mentioning transferable skills I acquired through extra curricular activities, ie football = teamwork, etc, etc…

    1. Cover letters are not really the place to “sell” yourself, which is why this is short… much safer to keep it boring and then do the selling via networking / interviews.

  108. Avatar
    Silverback

    I know this is supposed to be basic, but the first paragraph is pretty useless. Your name, university/job position and contact details will already be on your resume so what’s the point in wasting time and space repeating the details on your cover letter. Also, saying “I am interested in pursuing an [Investment Banking Analyst / Associate] position at your firm” is also somewhat redundant, since the recruiter knows what position you’re applying for.

    The template is good as a starting point, but on the off chance someone actually does read your cover letter, I would try to do a lot more than just make redundant statements.

    1. This template is for both email and traditional letters… and in email it’s certainly not redundant. Even with traditional letters you are introducing new information by giving the name of the person you met at their firm as well as your major / where you’re working more specifically.

  109. so do you expect the same stats as what you have written for the resume template? A given population, and a limited percentage will download it, and even a limited percentage will copy it word for word?

    Cheers, thanks for all the great info!

    1. In the grand scheme of things, yes – online a lot of people use these templates but most people who apply to banks do not use them.

  110. I’m currently a rising junior at a semi target looking to be a SA next summer. This past summer I interned at a discount brokerage firm but had significant responsibilities (they didn’t have to hire an additional broker because of me) and got a lot of experience and face time with clients.

    I have an opportunity to apply for a PWM internship for the fall with Morgan Stanley Smith Barney. Should I continue with my current internship through the fall or would it look better to move to the more distinguished name? I imagine the work would be similar. thanks

    1. Go to the better name

  111. nice template, it sure will be easier for internationals like me to write one now. thanks.

  112. Thank you for the cover letter template.

    “If you’re making the body of your email the cover letter, make it even shorter (4-5 sentences total) and cut out the address bits at the top.”

    Do you mean we should drastically cut down the entire 4 paragraph cover letter into 4-5 sentences?

    1. Yes, make it so they don’t have to scroll much (if at all) when reading on a Blackberry. 1-2 sentence intro, 2 sentences on your work experience and how it makes you fit for the job and then 1 sentence conclusion.

  113. A nicely put article! Anyway, I like the new template for the website too!

    A question that is unrelated to the article:

    How far does an interviewer expect you to know in a previous live deal that you were previously involved in as an INTERN?
    I mean really, to be fair, often times, even if interns are being put into live deals, they are only doing menial works (including me), such as researching, data mining, presentation slides building, etc.

    How far of financial analysis would the interviewer expect you to know?

    Also, in terms of financial modeling, you’ve said it before that it is the kind of work that everyone should want to be exposed to. But what if the financial modeling is not for a live deal, but for a potential deal? Would it still look better than the menial works in live deals?

    Thank you! You have no idea how helpful you have been.

    1. They expect you to know what you indicate you know… so don’t set expectations very high. And yes any type of modeling work is better than menial tasks

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