by Brian DeChesare Comments (273)

Why Investment Banking?

Why Investment Banking?

“I looked at all the articles on your site but nothing told me WHY I want to get into this industry.

Can YOU tell me why I want to be an investment banker?

It’s a question you’ll get in every interview.

But it’s also a question where 90% of interviewees give terrible answers, no matter what their background is.

I can’t tell you exactly why you want to do investment banking… but I can tell you what to say in interviews.

So, why investment banking?

The Conventional “Wisdom” – Saying the Generic

Most websites, books, and other resources recommend generic answers:

  • You want to learn a lot.
  • You’re interested in corporate finance.
  • You like a fast-paced environment.
  • You’ve always done well in finance/accounting classes.
  • You want to work with smart and motivated people.

These answers aren’t “wrong.”

But there is a problem: interviewers have heard them thousands of times and will start dozing off if yours resembles one of the above.

A friend at a bulge bracket bank in Asia said one recent interviewee gave the following answer for his “Why Investment Banking?” question:

“I… just want to learn. Nowhere else would give me the learning opportunity, and I want to learn so much… I’m really interested in learning and investment banking is the best place to learn.”

Uh, so why don’t you just stay in school then?

The Real Way to Answer the Question

It’s not about “honesty.”

It’s about being personal.

You can include some of the “generic” points above in your answer, but you shouldn’t limit your answer to those.

Instead, you need to mention something from your background or interests that NOT everyone else can just look up online and regurgitate in interviews.

We’re going to look at 2 ways you can do this: the “Big Picture” method and the “Slice of Life” method.

The Big Picture

With this one, you talk about how you started out on another path but shifted your interest to finance over time.

This one works best if you’re:

  • A Career Changer (at any level).
  • A Non-Finance/Accounting Major.
  • Interviewing with an Industry Group.
  • Struggling to think of a specific incident that made you interested.

The strategy is simple: Background in One Field +Experience in Finance = Long-Term Success.

This is not the “Tell me about yourself” question, so you need to get your points across quickly – take any longer than 30 seconds and you’ll bore the interviewer, unless you were a male escort in a former life.

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Example for MBA-Level Career Changer:

Let’s say you worked at a healthcare policy think tank, started to learn more about the business of healthcare, and then decided to go to business school to re-brand yourself and get into finance.

You would start by mentioning how you were interested in biology/medicine/healthcare originally, and enjoyed the work at the institute at first. But then you had to do a lot of research into healthcare M&A deals, you learned more about business/finance, met a lot of bankers, and you realized you were more interested in that side – in the future you want to advise healthcare companies on business decisions, so healthcare investment banking is the perfect match.

Example for Former Engineer at Undergraduate Level:

Let’s say you’re coming from a technical background, did a few internships, but then realized you were more interested in business.

Talk about how you did well in your internships, but became more interested in business after speaking with friends in different departments, and how you started following startup news, technology M&A news, and recent deals. You’re interested in being an investor in tech companies one day, so combining your previous background with banking experience would let you do this.

I used a similar story in multiple interviews and it always worked.

You need to modify these examples based on what you’ve done, but the basic formula is simple: Background in One Field + Finance Experience = Success in Achieving Long-Term Goals.

If you don’t know what your “long-term goals” are, just make them up to fit the situation.

The Slice of Life

With this method, you talk about how an event early in your life made you interested in business/finance and how your interest developed after that experience.

This one works best if you’re:

  • A Finance/Accounting/Business Major.
  • Coming in with previous finance/banking full-time or internship experience.
  • A “Career Changer” but you can point to something specific that prompted the change.

So let’s say you’ve been a finance major since you started university and you don’t have a “career change” to point to. In that case, you need to think about your family, experiences growing up, school, summer camps, and anything else you can think of that can explain how you became interested:

  • You saw your parents day-trading when you were younger and started following the markets.
  • You went to an event for women in business and met some MDs at banks there, which got you interested.
  • Your friend started working at a bank and you toured his office one day and met lots of people there.
  • You were in an investment club and won 1st place in a competition by picking stocks no one else even considered.

It doesn’t need to be a unique story: it just needs to be something that not everyone else will say.

And don’t overestimate the competition: I know from interviewing people at “top” schools that 99% of interviewees don’t even get the basics right.

Once you figure out what your “event that made you interested in finance” is, start your answer by stating what it is and then how it led you into your major, internships, and jobs, and how you see banking as your next step to achieve whatever you’re thinking about doing in the long-term, which is hopefully related to business.

There’s nothing “wrong” with saying you want to learn or that you’re interested in corporate finance – but you shouldn’t stop there.

You need to set yourself apart by thinking about your Slice of Life or your Big Picture.

And Not Just for “Why Investment Banking”

You need to use this answer for more than just the “Why investment banking?” questions: you have to use it in your “story” and also when you’re networking, because anyone you contact will ask why you’re interested.

Especially if you’re coming from a non-finance background, figuring out your “reason why” is critical because most peoples’ rationale consists of “I want to make more money!”

Other Possibilities

You can combine these two methods as well – just make sure your answer is short, because there’s nothing worse than asking this question and having someone ramble for 5 minutes after you’ve lost interest within 30 seconds.

Keep it to a few sentences and explain how your own background or some specific experience makes you a good match for the group you’re interviewing with.

Whatever you do, avoid stating the generic and talking about how you “want to learn.” You need to tie your “reason why” to what you’ve done in the past and what you want to do in the future.

Complications

There are a few situations where you may need to modify or add to your strategy:

  1. You’re coming in from an extremely non-traditional background and have changed your career so many times you don’t know where to start.
  2. You interviewed for banking positions before, but didn’t get any offers and ended up at a bank in a non-investment-banking position – and now you’re interviewing again.
  3. You did an internship but didn’t get a return offer and now you’re interviewing for full-time positions.

For #1, avoid the temptation to make your story “complicated.” Skip less relevant details and simplify your background so that it’s understandable in 30 seconds.

For #2, if you’re speaking with a bank you’ve interviewed at before, you should emphasize how you’ve learned / improved a lot since your initial interviews and have realized you’re even more interested now after completing your internship.

If it’s a bank you haven’t interviewed with before, say that you only became seriously interested over the summer and don’t mention your previous interviews.

For #3, say that you did well but didn’t like your group and didn’t fit in with the culture. You can’t lie about receiving an offer – but you can position it as being a “lack of cultural fit” rather than you not performing well.

Why Investment Banking?

That’s your homework: go and spend 30 minutes planning out what you’re going to say and which approach you’ll use.

And whatever you do, please don’t use the word “learn” 10 times in your response.

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
    Jonathan Zhu

    Hi Brian,

    I am a first-year undergraduate at UCL (target but less competitive than Oxbridge/LSE), studying IT/Business. I have done a L/S Equity HF internship and have won several trading competitions. I am currently applying for IB’s insight week programs. The UK interviews are basically digital ones(hirevue), and I am wondering what shall I respond if the bank ask both “Tell me about yourself” and “Why IB?” Will my story sound repetitive?

    Also, I am applying for the S&T. What are my reasons for the job do you think banks will be interested in? I have a genuine interest in the markets and is willing to do a relationship-based business (equity sales). However, are there any other thing that people usually mention when they apply for S&T?

    Thanks for your help! Really appreciate your information on the website.

    1. We cover recommendations for your story here: https://www.mergersandinquisitions.com/walk-me-through-your-resume/

      For S&T, you need to focus on specific products you like rather than saying something vague like “I like the stock market.” See: https://www.mergersandinquisitions.com/sales-trading-interview-fit-questions/

  2. Hi Brian,

    Thanks for the great article. I am having trouble answering “Why IB” during the interview.To give you little bit about my background, I go to a target school majoring in Financial Economics with Business Management. I’ve worked at Big 4 accounting firm in Banking & Finance Audit division, small regional boutique IB in NYC, and PE firm (Growth Equity Fund). What would be the best way to tell my story??

    1. I would recommend following one of the templates here: https://www.mergersandinquisitions.com/walk-me-through-your-resume/

      It shouldn’t be too difficult – interested in accounting/finance so you worked at the Big 4, but wanted to work more directly on deals, so you went to the boutique IB firm. Did well there, but didn’t get the deal exposure you wanted, so you went into PE to learn about bigger/more diversified companies. And now you want to work at a larger bank to combine the deal experience you gained at the boutique IB with the bigger companies you experienced at the PE firm.

  3. Good day,
    I have an interview for a new analyst role, operations for an Investment bank. I have a masters degree in Petroleum engineering and the main question would be, why operation?

    1. I don’t know. Why are you interested in operations? Questions like this baffle me because how do you expect me, some random person the Internet, to know your career motivations and goals?

  4. Avatar
    Jameson A

    hi brian, nicole,

    my story is basically that I did an asset management internship at a BB but didn’t get a return offer and then proceeded to flunk out of uni. At the time i was not mentally prepared for the internship. I suffered low self esteem and just went through a down period where everything for me was falling apart. after some soul searching and therapy sessions Ive pretty much got over these mental struggles i guess.

    ive managed to get back to a semi target uk uni (UCL, studying history politics and economics) and im trying to get another internship second time round but hopefully this time in IBD, Sales or the investing side of asset manegment, basically anything more technical than asset management sales.

    Do you think i stand a shot at a second chance, i know its a competitve industry so i highly doubt theres time for sob stories but Ive managed to get back to top 10 uk uni, getting decent grades and have also had some finance/business related work experience since dropping out of uni, including a current job at a top uk wealth advisor.

    1. Yes, just leave out the first internship where you did not do well.

  5. Hey Brian,

    If they ask me to walk through my resume and through that I explain why IB, and they ask me why IB again in a later question, do I just repeat what I said?

    1. They shouldn’t even ask the “Why IB?” question if you have told your story properly…

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

      And if they do ask, it is just the last part of your story.

  6. Hi Brian,

    I hold an MSc in Finance from a target school in London, cleared CFA Level I, and currently studying towards Level II. I have a really solid finance background and ended up in Bloomberg as a Data Analyst out of my Master. I have been there for 2 years now and I am bored as hell doing operational stuff. I feel like my brain is shrinking and miss the intellectual stimuli that for example I had when working with my peers during my Postgrad in London. I truly want to shift to Investment Banking, and to the say of my peers working at organisations like UBS, SocGen, and others, I do not miss the profile. After hundreds of tries I was able to secure an Assessment Centre at JP Morgan (unsuccessful), and was waiting for another AC the last Autumn at RBC, but the positions got filled up quickly. Probably you will ask yourself why I did not do internships of sort etc. I was studying English during summer holidays in between terms and never had guidance whatsoever. I come from a very rural background and I strongly believe this is what made me hungry with ambitions. Yet I do not understand, what am I missing?

    Thank you for your answer

    1. It’s tough to say because I don’t know your previous work experience, but my guess is that the lack of internships hurt you most. If you’ve already been working for 2 years, you might have to consider an MBA at this point. Or, go to a Big 4 firm or an independent valuation firm, or something else that is closer to IB and move in from there.

      1. Thank you for your response. I have done an Internship in a Real Estate Investment Management Firm in London for a month, where I analysed a fund’s performance. The results were used to present to clients their superior returns. The same company liked me and sent me to Milan where I participated in the creation of a new real estate fund for which our company was the vehicle. Here I have done everything in just a bit more than a month: I operated financial models, I liaised with due diligence advisers and debt providers, I heavily helped in the due diligence process, did reporting for clients and management, and regularly attended the TAC (Transaction Advisory Committee), taking notes, preparing the minutes, and where I was also asked for my opinion. I really felt valued, they offered me a contract although they knew since I joined I would be taking a Graduate position at Bloomberg in London. At Bloomberg my main task was of data entry for new Corporates and Financials issuances. I did learn a lot, but after 6-months that learning curve just stopped altogether. I moved to another team maintaining Structured Products (fixed income securities with embedded options). I moved from interacting with DCM desks, to interact with Sales and Trading professionals. In all this you also interact a lot with back office (Mumbai, Chennai, etc…), probably the most frustrating part of my job. For someone who has never interacted with back office the way I do, saying that it is really hard to speak basic finance with them, may sounds arrogant. Currently I am leading a team of 7 analysts looking at client inquiries on yield and spread analysis. Our goal is to build a library with dynamic financial models that can be used to quickly match discrepancies to that client receive timely explanations. As an example, the ASW and the Z-spread are off although they should be close. I would need to investigate the issue. It may be a data issue, a script issue, or simply the client is doing some mistakes. Whatever that maybe the bottom line is that if I would not understand about financial modelling and finance, I would not certainly be able to do such a thing.

        I tried to summarise more or less everything, but I am sure your expertise will see far through those lines.

        I appreciate you coming back to me.
        Matt

        1. I think you should go for non-IB front office roles: Real estate, lending, credit funds, etc. They are easier to get and you would have a much higher chance with your background.

  7. What if they ask why IB and not Private Equity/Equity Research etc.? Can I say that 1-I can probably learn more by being an Investment Banker because the job is more demanding and 2-for Private Equity it can take from 5 to 7 years to see the results of your work while in M&A for example you wait less?

  8. Hey Brian, i’ve ran into a bit of a problem with the “why investment banking” question. My story revolves around how I began university in Kinesiology, but transferred into after working a couple years at BMO (Just as an administrative clerk). But recently as I was networking, the individual stumped me with “why not consulting?” I had no idea what to say and i’m worried about that response coming up again in an interview. Any suggestions?

    1. Because you want to work on deals, do more financial than operational work, and actually see the firsthand impact of your work.

  9. Hi Brian/ Team,

    Thanks for the post. I am currently working in Asset Management and I am being interviewed to move to M&A for the same company. I am having trouble coming with a good story, What do you guys think of the following? Is it convincing?

    First : I have always had a passion for corporate finance and the markets. My current job requires me to follow current events and I always see myself more interested on M&A deals since they are linked directly or indirectly to everything we do.

    Second: I explain how I am really good at my job but that I need a bigger challenge and that this division is going to allow me to leverage the skills that I am already comfortable with and expand my technical knowledge. After more than a year learning about the business and meeting with different people (name of people). I believe M&A is the best place for me, where I will be able to add value from day one, since I have already working for the firm and I know the culture very well, I am really good at dealing with clients (internal and external), managing people’s expectations, I am very comfortable working under pressure, I don’t mind doing long hours and to be honest for me is a matter of doing something that I will enjoy.

    1. You need to cite some specific deals you’ve followed, how you learned about deals in your current role, and how you’ve taken steps to learn the technical side on your own. Your reasons are too vague right now unless you can get more specific about your interest in M&A. Talk about M&A deals like a sports fan talks about football games.

  10. Hi Brian,

    Hope you are doing well. I am an Electrical Engineer who graduated with a Bachelor’s In Electrical Engineering from a SUNY Stony Brook, NY in 2015. I have been working at an engineering firm ever since graduation, and over the span of time, I have exposed to the business side of the company I work for, and also met few investment bankers via peer networking that reinforced my interest in IB or PE. But I am very much lost about how to break into the industry given my academic background, and also the fact that I do not have an Undergraduate Degree from a top Target Schools for Financial Companies.

    So, currently I am self-studying for GMAT. But I know I MUST score over 740+ in GMAT if I have to get into any decent MBA, if I am not wrong. But I am not sure if shooting for Fall 2017 admission would be feasible or make me a better candidate for admission into a top MBA program given that by 2017, I would have accrued around 2 years of post-graduation work experience. Moreover, I was a part-time senior Supervisor at an event management company in NYC for 3.5 years during college. I heard good business schools normally do not give admission to any candidate with less than 3 years of work experience.

    So I am very confused what to do, and if I have to wait until Fall 2018 to get into a good MBA program, and also if it will look good if I pursue technical profession before I join MBA and then switch to IB/PE?

    I will be grateful and obliged if you can help me with proper guidance so that I do not fall behind and resolve my mid-career dilemma to have a clear plan to work on. You elaborate and thoughtful message will be much appreciated. Thank you for your time and consideration.

    Respectfully,

    Manjur

    1. To get into IB at this stage, you’ll almost certainly need an MBA along with a pre-MBA internship at some type of finance firm.

      It’s better to have 3 years of work experience when you enroll in business school and to spend the extra year doing something a bit more business-related at your company, and then to get the pre-MBA internship right before the MBA program begins.

  11. Hi Brian,

    I did an internship as corporate banking role. I was wondering if i can say I want to do Ib because I did some DCF and comps in this internship, and I realzied I love doing financial modeling, and wanted to get mor exposures to some bigger deals to polish my modelling skills?

    1. That can be part of your reasoning, but it’s not good enough for the entire reason. You have to act like you were interested in deals from the start, got some exposure in corporate banking, and then wanted to change X or work on more Y, so you now want to do IB (where X or Y equals more varied or complex deals, for example).

      1. Hey Brian,

        Thanks for your prompt reply.

        What about I say this:

        1. I have been very interested in deals. I will check deal news like M&A, IPOs on a regular basis and did some research on them.

        2. Then I interned as a summer corporate banking analyst, where I was responsible for writing credit memos and performing enterprise valuation models for our clients(in case they default and cannot pay us back so we can sell the client companies).

        3. Then I realized I love financial modeling, and have done very well in the valuation work for this internship.

        4. So I wanted to move from working on credit analysis to purely doing financial modelings, as a way to better analyze deals.

        I bought your online tutorials for networking, and they were VERY helpful!! Looking forward to your new articles!!

        1. I would say that’s still not great reasoning. You should say that you liked the analysis in corporate banking, but you wanted to work on more varied and complex deals, and complete the entire *process* for those deals, which is what attracts you to investment banking. So you want to combine your modeling, credit analysis, and deal skills to work in IB and advise a broader set of companies on different deal types.

  12. Hi Brian,

    I am hoping to schedule a meeting with an evercore MD (informal meeting) and would like to turn it into an informal interview or at least leverage it to get an interview. I studied in the UK, just graduated with a first class in computer science, and have done 2 HF internships (one being the best in my country). However, I’m afraid that after hearing my story and looking at my CV, he may think that I’m simply looking for exit opps.

    What do you think is the best way for me to spin my internships into a good story towards IB?

    Btw, I have purchased your BIWS course and do you think studying the accounting interview module will be sufficient? (I think it’s module 3 or 4 of the fundamentals course)

    Thank you!

    1. The best way to position yourself is to say that your plan all along was investment banking, and that the other internships have just served to move you closer to investment banking. Say that you became more interested in deals during the HF internships.

      Studying the accounting modules will probably not be sufficient, because you’ll get questions on valuation, DCF analysis, M&A, and more. Please see the quick start guide to the course.

  13. Hi,

    I meet with a Director with one Investment Banking firm. Told him about my interest in investment banking. He asked me where do i see my self in 10 years and i replied that in 10 year i see myself starting my own investment banking firm after gaining the required experience.
    He then went ahead and asked me why? I told him because I have a strong passion for investment banking and also to be relevant.

    Then he told me to think about the why(i.e why i want to start my own investment banking firm in 10 year) question again and get back to him within a week.

    Please, how best can I answer and give him the best reply.

    Best regards.

    1. Um… well, what makes you interested in investment banking? Why do you actually want to do it? “Passion” for something is too vague. What *specific* deals or client types do you want to work with? What personal experiences have led you to the conclusion that you want to work with those deals or clients?

  14. I am currently working in oil and gas sector from past 1.5 years and i have had a Bachelors degree in engineering. I want to switch my profile to finance, So I thought of pursuing MBA in finance. But What should be my response to this question of pursuing finance, a switch from my technical field, at the interview session ?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      I’d just say that you’ve got interested in finance because of XYZ reason, which is why you decided to change your profile.

  15. I know the “walk me through your resume” is typically 1-3 minutes. How long would you recommend the “why investment banking answer be”? I am currently clocking in at 1.5 mins.

    Thanks

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Yes I may even keep it to below 1 minute.

  16. Hi Brian,

    There’s one question that I feel that always holds me back in interviews: “why did you choose this university?” I get this question alot simply because I graduated from a fairly low ranked univeristy in the UK, around 80 in the league table. I never could convincingly justify this question. The reasons for attending this uni were simply because it was my local uni and the most financially convenient for me given that my parents are first generation immigrants – I didn’t come from a privileged background. Although I did have the grades to attend a reputable uni, I made the best of what I had and ultimately graduated first place in my year group.

    Now given my context how would you best answer “why this uni?” I don’t want to sound like I’m looking for too much sympathy etc.

    Many thanks in advance,

    Al

    1. I would just say that you had a good financial incentive to attend because of the deal they gave you, and given your family situation, you were not able to afford a higher-priced school. You did have the grades to get into a better-known school, but did not want to take on the amount of debt required when you made the decision. Make it more about the business trade-off, not sympathy.

  17. Hi,
    I’m mighty impressed with the info you’ve put up here. I graduated with a Bachelors in Information Technology in 2009 (from an average grade college in India) and very early moved to Big 4 in 2010. I focus on Technology Risks, Process Reviews and Compliance related services. Banking clients and Invement management Outsourcing providrs form one of the arctors we provide services to that are relevant to Finance. I have about 5 years in the domain peppered with an active lifestyle outside work. I’m really keen on breaking into that rarified space of banking/ finance that is PE/ IB. Would really appreciate suggestion and a broad roadmap. I have lived/ worked abroad extensively – about 40% of 5 years

    Thanks !!
    Puneet

    1. Your best bet is to make an internal transfer to the TAS group at the Big 4 firm or the internal bank there, and then leverage that experience to get into a pure-play bank or other finance firm. This article may be helpful with the transition to TAS: https://www.mergersandinquisitions.com/big-4-transaction-advisory-services-corporate-development-financial-institution/

      1. Thanks Brian !!

        Your reply is really helpful in giving me a starting point. Right now, I’m a Year1 Manager with the Big 4 firm I spoke about. I have just broken into the mid-management. Making an internal move to TAS would be really difficult because a. No finance academic knowledge. b. Fit – it’s easier to move when you’re an analyst than a manager.
        Now, personally, I wouldn’t mind going at an Analyst/ associate level, but the partners will have issues – No one wants a manager in a practice leave and join another as an associate.
        Do you think retooling with an MBA would make sense ?
        If MBA is the way forward, Do you suggest I spend a few months (before I join my MBA) with a Broking/ Trading/ Interning at a smaller India based equity fund – basically anything that boosts my credentials in finance ? Would really love to have your thoughts on this. Also, is there a paid service where I can have a mentor to direct me.

        I know that’s a lot of questions in a post…so thanks in advance !!

        Best
        Puneet

        1. Avatar
          M&I - Nicole

          Yes retooling with an MBA can potentially help you, but only at a top school: https://www.mergersandinquisitions.com/mba-masters-programs/ Yes I’d suggest you spend a few months pre-MBA at a fund to broaden your exposure. We are not 100% sure of paid services for mentors.

  18. Thanks Nicole, appreciate the advice

  19. Hello Nicole / Brian

    I have a telephone interview next week for a mid-market boutique in London (this is my first ever interview over the phone).

    I just want to find out some of the etiquettes when answering and ending the call? Do you think its a good idea to begin like this….”Before we begin, I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for considering me etc.”?

    Can you give me some tips on how to begin/end the conversation? I’d like to know of anything that I could say that will differentiate me, show my enthusiasm and perhaps leave a lasting impression on the interviewer?

    Many thanks,

    Al

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Al, I’d just keep it short. Thanks for calling is a good start. And to end the conversation, just end it naturally – thanks for taking the time to speak with me. I’m very interested in this opportunity and I look forward to joining the firm. I think its easier to impress the caller throughout the conversation (perhaps the first 10 minutes) and the tone of your voice matters a lot (shows enthusiasm etc). In terms of exactly what to say, it’s hard to say here because it varies according to the person and the interviewer.

  20. Hi Brian / Nicole,

    I’m currently applying for a ECM internship at a well-known boutique as no M&A vacancies are available at the moment. My intention is to get my foot in the door and hopefully switch to their M&A team (should this be possible) once I finish this internship. However in my app, I wrote something along the lines of “I want to go into ECM because I see myself in an advisory role, but also very much interested in working closely with the markets… and ECM combines the two etc. Would it be at all possible to make a strong water-tight case to move to M&A (a purely advisory role) as I would be contradicting myself in the app / interview?

    Keep up the good work!

    Alaur

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      If you’re applying for an ECM role what you wrote is fine. I’m not sure if I understand your last question. No, you’ll need to choose between ECM + M&A – which one is your top choice? And then craft your story from there.

  21. Thanks for the great content on this site. I am currently a junior and spent my sophomore summer at a regional commercial bank. How can I use this to explain why I want investment banking? My initial thoughts were that I wanted to work with companies on a larger scale and in a more challenging environment, but corporate banking also fits that bill. I could also say that I want to advise companies on M&A, but that would only be specific to M&A (I’m also targeting other industry and product groups). Any advice would be much appreciated. Thanks in advance for your help.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Just say that during your summer, you’ve work on XYZ project/met with XYZ bankers and you realized that IB is more suitable for you given (i.e. faster paced, more deal oriented environment, etc)

  22. If I said I’m interested in banking b/c it can give me the skills to strategically learn how to select stocks/ help me reach my LT goal in becoming an investor, does that seem like I’m more interested in investing than banking?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Yes. This answer is more suitable for buy-side/research roles.

  23. Hi there,
    This is Ankit from India.I just finished My Bachelor of Engineering (in Mechanical Engineering), I got interested in financial sector in my final Year. I did some online courses and read some economics books to gain more Knowledge, I’m eager to learn more.My question is shall I do an MBA(finance) or look for some internship or Job, problem is I cant find any because of my technical background.
    Any Suggestions ?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Yes an MBA from target school may help you retool yourself

  24. Hello,

    I’m not a finance major and am planning to go with the “big picture” method. I was wondering if you could give me advice on how to build a more polished story from my current situation.

    I’m currently a rising junior and I’ve interned at an embassy, a law firm and am currently interning at a boutique-ish firm in IBD, specifically M&A. Previously, I was interested in law, but gradually gained more interest in finance because it was related to what I had experienced at the law firm (corporate law). Currently I don’t have a LOT of knowledge on the field of finance, but am taking online courses to learn more about it. I want to somehow convery through my story that I enjoy how IB helps bring together results that are “greater than myself,” in a concrete manner. Additionally, I enjoy using the critical skills in valuing companies and trying to finding the best combination of maximizing that value through M&A by studying the industry.

    Is this inappropriate in fully illustrating my interest? If so, how could I spin it?

    Once again, thank you so much and I look forward to your advice!

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Very quickly – if you don’t have lots of knowledge on finance, you need to gain that knowledge and talk about why you’re interested in banking. We don’t review stories on our comments forum here in fairness to BIWS customers. In your case, please read https://www.mergersandinquisitions.com/why-investment-banking/

  25. Avatar
    Canberk

    Hi,

    I just received a phone interview with a bulge bracket through an employee reference.

    I worked for a mining company for the past year in their project finance department. I am right now in the process of preparing an answer for Why IB; here is what I am thinking of focusing on:

    1) I know that it doesn’t separate us from other candidates when we talk about how we love being busy, challenged and perform better under pressure. But I have a personal story behind: My father grew up in an orphanage, and his achievements inspire me the most, and I look up to him. He has come a very long way, and I want to achieve at least as much as he did for my children. In a career path within IB, the sky is the limit which excites me very much.

    2) Focusing on why I want to leave project finance even though I like projects- the bottom line is deal flow. The deal flow within the company that I worked for was very low. Although, I tried to fill my free time by reading about different industries and build valuation models on my own, the amount of real work I do is very minimal. As a recent graduate, I want to obtain as much hands-on experience as possible, because this will determine the shape of my career path, in which I seek endless opportunities.

    Please tell me if you have any advice.

    Thank you.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Sure I think what you wrote sounds reasonable. If you can add in that you’ve spoken with bankers (any experience with IB), that may make your pitch better.

  26. Avatar
    Makram

    Hi Brian,

    I was wondering if I can contact you by email so that I could send you my one pager professional project and get your opinion on how to formulate it as a 60-second short answer for the “tell me about yourself” question.

    P.S. I just signed up for the interview guide on Breaking Into Wall-street which might help me with that too.

    Regards,
    Makram

  27. Hi M&I,

    I am an undergrad at a non-target Canadian university and I have an interview coming up at a top 3 Canadian IB for a summer analyst role. Prior to that, my internship experience have been at a large Canadian P&C Insurer as a payments and reconciliation intern, and a public utilities company in internal control/risk management. As they don’t have much to do with finance, I have gotten involved with my school’s investment club as a portfolio manager and won a stock competition but I really do want to to pursue a career in the capital markets. I cold-called boutiques and applied to major IBs the previous year but failed to land any offers. I feel the interviewer may wonder why I didn’t secure any capital markets-related role prior to this as some of my competition would most likely have done.

    Can you kindly provide any tips how to spin it in a more positive light?

    Much appreciated, thanks!

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      I’d focus on spinning what you did that was interesting that summer. You can then talk about how your experience over the summer made you more interested in IB (perhaps you met someone in the industry) and what you love about IB, and why you want to be in IB in the long run. I’d also make it sound so straight forward that working at the insurance company was the logical decision at that time.

  28. I had a degree in Physics 13 years ago and worked in retail banking for about 7years. I decided to leave the bank and did a professional course in Accounting. When I finished I started working in a small accounting firm but will like to switch into investment banking since that has always been my interest. How do you think I can link all that up.

    1. I would take a look at some of these stories: https://www.mergersandinquisitions.com/case-studies-reader-success-stories/ And go to the “From the Big 4” category.

  29. Hi, I’m struggling a bit with the question why Investment Banking versus why Sales and Trading. I’ve applied to both types of internships because I know some bulge brackets combine the two positions in a rotational summer analyst program, but I still want to make sure I can correctly answer the questions why IB instead of S&T and vice versa?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Perhaps you’re more interested in the deal-oriented culture of IB. You prefer working with corporates vs. just the markets. You are driven by executing deals versus trading

      1. Thanks Nicole! And what would be a good reason why someone would prefer S&T instead of IB?

        1. Avatar
          M&I - Nicole

          They prefer the markets, investing, and dealing with institutional investors

  30. Hi,

    My undergrad program is in Finance, I had internship with a mid-market IB in China in my second year summer. But after that, I didn’t put too much time on IB, I did internship with pwc,united nation, and a commercial bank in Toronto. Now i’m doing Master of finance in Oxford, and trying to break into IB, how should I round up my story? Is there a good way to explain why I only did a internship with IB on my second year, and then diverted to other areas? Thank you!

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Yes perhaps you wanted to try something else out but you realize that you wanted to go back to IB given its faster pace and deal-oriented environment.

  31. I want to be a INVESTMENT BANKER so guide me where should i start. I had done computer science engineering last year.
    Also, let me know whether i should do MBA in dual specialization Banking & Finance or PGDM in finance or MBA in Finance only?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      I don’t think it makes a big difference to be honest…https://www.mergersandinquisitions.com/mba-investment-banking/

  32. Avatar
    Nicholas

    Hi, thanks for this great posting!
    I am now pursuing a Bachelor Degree of Arts in English in China, as well as a Dual Degree in Finance. How can I use my art background in English in answering the why IB question? It’s not like other majors such as IT or healthcare that have a specific industry to focus on. Is it weird if I say that I would like to combine my expertise in English and my interest in finance? Please help me on this.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      You may want to talk about your finance spark – what got you interested in finance, and how your communication skills can be valuable for financial firms.

  33. Avatar
    Sebastian Strug

    This is gold, thank you very much!

    I was rejected recently for student work experience/internship at Merrill Lynch but I have another opportunity next year, and I’m determined to get in with the help of your blog. Thank you.

  34. I’m doing a bachelor in accounting at a second-tier school, what can I do in my first year to put myself in a better position for year 2 BB summer internships?

    Will doing a summer internship at a local financial management firm (http://www.nobleapex.com/catalog/index.php?language=en) beneficial at all?

    I’m starting to network but don’t know how I should follow-up with contacts. Please help! Thank you so much :)

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Since you’re only in your first year, yes this internship will be helpful. In your junior year however, what’ll really be useful is experience with an IB.

      To follow up, please refer to
      https://www.mergersandinquisitions.com/personal-networking-mistakes-career-fairs/
      https://www.mergersandinquisitions.com/turn-cold-calls-warm-follow-up-alumni-conversations/
      https://www.mergersandinquisitions.com/rock-your-informational-interviews/

  35. How should I best answer the short term and long term career goals in investment banking summer internship interview?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Please see below for a basic guideline you can use. You’ll have to craft an answer based on your own personal experiences to make it more personal.
      In the short term I am interested in learning specific skill sets so I can assist seniors to pitch to clients and advise clients on their financing efforts. In the long-term I’m excited about getting the opportunity to start bringing in deals.

  36. Sorry Nicole, forgive me. typed Brian in error.

  37. Hi Brian,

    I majored in Banking in undergrad and now work for a commercial bank in Zimbabwe. I am applying to top business schools in the US for the Fall 2013 entry. I will have 5 years experience on matriculation( one in treasury at Barclays; two in Microfinance and the other two in retail banking at Ecobank Zimbabwe. I would like to get into investment banking and will leverage on business school to do that.

    I am not sure of how I can craft my story on the ‘why IB’ question. Do you have any leads.

    I was doing very well in Microfinance. I crafted new products and worked on project appraisal for the start-up. I however left to try out banking when I got offered a job as a Relationship Manager at the bank.

    I really want to venture into investment banking. Please help on how his kind of background fits IB.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      You should ask yourself what draws you to banking first. You can always say that after taking several classes in bschool (assuming you get in) & meeting various contacts in the industry, you realize you have a passion in banking given [why you’re interested in banking and why you prefer banking over microfinance]

      Difficult for me to help on comments page. Hope you get the gist of what I’m saying

  38. If i have previous banking internship experience is it ok to point to a past deal that solidified my interest? Or should I even explain before that why banking?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Sure. It works

  39. I just finished an internship this summer at a merchant bank this summer, so now I have finance experience to put on my resume so I can apply bigger firms in the IB position. My prior experience is all retail such as grocery and clothing stores, which has nothing to do with IB. Should I still put them on my resume to show I have been active and busy while being a student? Or should I just put my summer internship experience on there?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      You might still want to list your experience in retail briefly. List your impact and what you did there. I’d focus on your summer experience though

  40. I’ve been reading this great website for quite a while, but its my first post. I wish i read this site a few years ago. Ok, so in short, i just turned 27, have a us bachelor economics degree and a master in management degree from a prestigious european school, i started my own company and its not doing bad, but its in a really bad market (my home country which is pretty poor). So my question is can i still try and break into IB, and do I have a chance for an MBA even if i dont have work ex with major companies. Thank you so much

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Can be challenging if you don’t have prior IB experience!

  41. I think I understand the differences in the functioning and purpose of the different divisions at a bulge bracket, but what kinds of differences in day to day work, lifestyle, atmosphere, pay, etc. are there between investment banking, investment management, securities, etc.? Are some easier to get into from a more quantitative background vs. liberal arts? You can apply to more than one for internships, is it okay to do this/are there some that go together? Thank you!

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Yes, some roles like structuring/trading are more quantitative and requires one to be able to calculate numbers on the spot. Some like sales in S&T/marketing in AM are more qualitative. You might be interested in http://www.goldmansachs.com/careers/choose-your-path/find-your-place/index.html Yes, it is ok though you might want to do some research on your own and figure out which divisions suit you most

  42. Great article. I was an undergraduate psychology major, then worked for a real estate company as a project manager in an emerging market for 3 years and was recently accepted to a top MBA program in the US. I am looking to break into IB, specifically real estate investment banking. My long-term career goals are to provide developers in emerging markets with financing options as well as advise real estate companies on business decisions. Is that a good long -term goal? And how would I link working in a developed country such as the US to a goal I have that is related to emerging markets?

    [WORDPRESS HASHCASH] The poster sent us ‘0 which is not a hashcash value.

  43. Hi i am doing an Honers degree in International Business Management and i want to get into investment Banking. are there any recommended courses post grad or other that i should apply for?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Get into a top tier target MBA program

  44. I am not sure about my answer for this question: I usually start out by saying IB is my personal fit because I am a competitive person. Then I explain that I am studying 5 class, work for 2 internship and 2 part time job. I love being busy and under pressure. Then I tie back to IBD that “I know in IBD there is always competition to close deal, to pitching ideas to client” and “with me, Investment Banking is a personal fit”
    Do you think that sounds personal enough? Is that a little bit cliche’

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      That sounds cliche and no it doesn’t sound personal enough. I think you should “personalize the spark” a bit. Maybe tell a story that attracted you to IB or something…

      1. Thank you! I actually add on 2 others reason that I like the transaction business (curious abt strategy behind the deals,etc) and learning opportunities. But I want to show that it’s a personal fit for me. I had a Banking experience before and realized that I thrive in a fast paced, multi-task,pressured environment where I have lots of responsibilities. Do you think that sounds better? Should I spend 10-20sec to tell my banking experience to personalize it? Thanks!

        1. If you had banking experience before, yes, definitely talk about it and use that to set yourself apart.

        2. Avatar
          M&I - Nicole

          Sure. Personalizing it would help.

  45. i came into my undergraduate as a business economics major, got a wealth management internship with merrill lynch through a contact, but then didnt make the gpa requirements to make it into the actual major to take upper division classes, so i ended up graduating with a degree in european studies. ive taken a few trips to germany and spain and taught math there, so i told interviewers that i switched majors after coming back because i was so interested in understand my cultural background. i took 2 years off after undergrad and tutored, and now im in a m.s. accounting program. im having a hard time connecting my european studies BACK to a grad degree in accounting/related field to banking). did i even spin my unrelated major correctly in the first place? any help would be really appreciated. thanks!

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      I don’t quite understand how you switched from European studies to MS Accounting either. You would know better than I do why you decide to get a grad degree

      1. well after i graduated with european studies, i was still interested in finance, but more so who actually makes sure the numbers people play with are correct (auditing). so i took some time off and took classes in accounting because thats what i wanted to do. i ended up applying to a m.s. in accounting in order to finish up my the required courses to sit for my cpa. after getting into the program, i now have an interest in ib. im having trouble tying all of my switches in interests together in order to show the interviewer a logical reason im truely interested in ib. i would have a total of 4 sparks: 1. wealth management, 2. studying european studies, 3. accounting, 4. ib? is having 4 sparks in my life too much? i feel like i need to explain all my changes in interests, in order to make my “story” believable. please help.

        1. Avatar
          M&I - Nicole

          You should explain why IB clearly and focus. You should focus on your why IB/finance spark

          1. how should i frame my response if they ask why the change of interests so much?

          2. Avatar
            M&I - Nicole

            I think you’d know better than I do because its your story. Difficult for me to help you on the comments page.

  46. Hello,

    I am currently a sophomore majoring in economics. I have never had a banking or even business internship, however I am interested in applying for an internship position at an IB firm this summer. I have never worked before and do not have much of a resume to speak of. What should I say as my reasons for wanting to go into the field of investment banking.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      You should ask yourself why you want to get into IB. We can’t help you if you don’t have the answer to it

  47. Where can I learn how about the technical questions they will ask me, I have a good amount of time to become a wizard at these technical questions (years) so how should I go about learning the content that they could possibly ask me?

  48. Hello,

    Great article, this site is one of my favorites on this internet. I wanted to ask what your prediction for investment banking will be going into the future. I am currently a high school senior interested in finance and was wondering, once I get out of undergrad, will there still be as much money and opportunity in investment banking (or I guess finance in general) as there is now or do you think it will diminish in the coming years?

    1. It will always exist because companies always need to buy, sell, and raise capital. Trading is more likely to suffer than banking because regulations there have gotten stricter. Average pay will come down, but you will still make more than in any other field (unless you start your own company and are mega-successful).

  49. How much will it help if an MD is helping me A LOT (i.e. setting up a visit to the office, giving me contacts, etc)? Do I still have a chance coming from a non/semi-target? I even got a call from HR because of him.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Yes. It helps a lot. Now forget about the fact that you came from a non-target and focus on your interviews!

  50. Brian,

    like the question above, can you clarify little more about how I should approach “walk me through your resume” versus “why investment banking?”

    1. Also, do they ask BOTH walk me through your resume and why investment during the interview or do they just ask one question?

      1. Avatar
        M&I - Nicole

        Yes. Both – even if the questions are not framed that way because you have to address why IB and why you’re there interviewing

    2. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Walk me through your resume – your experience, what you’ve been through (education, internships, work experience, etc), why you made the choices you made
      Why IB – Why are you interviewing for this job in IB? What makes you so eager to get into IB?

  51. Hello,

    For some reason your method for “Why Investment Banking” is very similar to the method for “Your Story in 5 steps”

    What are the main differences in the way I should answer those two questions?

    Thanks

    1. They are quite similar. The main difference is that with the “Why Investment Banking?” question, you don’t spend as much time explaining your spark and growing interest, and it’s a shorter response overall.

  52. I am reading, my first year, Investment and Financial Risk Management at Cass Business School in London. I have attended a number of networking events and talks. In particular the events organised by Women in Business Society and the UK India Trade Event, gave me greater motivation to become active in the industry. I’ve always had an interest in political and economic world events, finance allows me to focus that broad interest to study and predict what will happen next in the markets as a result of these events.

    What do you think of this? it is honest and genuinely does reflect my feeling about wanting to go into finance, however I am worried this isn’t what employers are looking for.

    thank you

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      I’d suggest you to get an internship in finance to boost your chances.

  53. A couple of questions regarding phone interview:

    1) Since I was working in relevant field before (PE in summer), What kind of questions would I be expected regarding my previous internship? Would they go really deep into it?

    2) For phone interview, would the interviewer ask me every single job experience, or he/she would focus only on the finance-related internship?

    Thank you!

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      1. https://www.mergersandinquisitions.com/private-equity-interviews/

      2. It depends. Perhaps he/she will focus on finance-related internships but he/she cld also touch upon your previous roles in other industries too

      1. Hi Nicole,

        1) Since this one will be an IB interview, will it still be the same format as the link you provided with me?

        2) My internship was mostly focused on research and didn’t involve much about modeling, what would be a good response if the interviewer asked why didn’t I do much modeling?

        3) And in terms of phone interview, will they be around 30 minutes as well?

        1. Avatar
          M&I - Nicole

          1. More info on IB interviews: https://www.mergersandinquisitions.com/investment-banking-superday-interview-guide/
          2. Say you’ve had some sort of exposure to modelling and demonstrate your knowledge of it. I’m sure you’ve been exposed to some sort of modeling/quant work in research. However, if you don’t know something, admit it. And don’t focus on your weakness, emphasize your strengths in interviews; impress them
          3. Yes. Longer/shorter depends on your chemistry w interviewer

          1. I am planning to write “I met this friend in a finance club and since he worked in boutique investment banks before, he really got me interested about banking because of the fast-paced environment and excitement of working on various deals.” — Is that considered a “good response” for “Why investment banking? If not, what could I do to improve/make it sound better?

          2. Avatar
            M&I - Nicole

            You may want to be a bit more specific because “fast-paced environment and excitement of working on various deals” sounds generic. You’ve got to address the why IB over other divisions. If you want specific guidance on how to make your case sound better, perhaps you could check out our resume & CL editing/coaching services https://www.mergersandinquisitions.com/investment-banking-resume-review/

  54. How is this not different from “tell me about yourself”? If an interviewer asks me “tell me about yourself”, do you add this “why banking” at the end?

    Thanks!!

    1. Just to be more clear, isn’t this question the same as Step 5 of “Tell me about yourself”? So when I am answering the 1st question should I add the answer to this question in or should I wait for the interviewer to ask “why M&A/banking” and then answer?

      Thanks once again!!

      1. Avatar
        M&I - Nicole

        Go w the flow. When timing is appropriate talk about why banking. But don’t blabber on. Pls refer to previous answer I posted

    2. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Tell him/her your background. Talk 20 secs. Wait for him/her to ask you more questions. Then talk..then lead to why you’re interviewing (why banking)

  55. Hi,
    so I am interviewing again this year. I would take your advice to say I have completed investment banking internship and are more interested in joining them. My question is if they ask why did I fail last year, is it ok to explain like this, I applied on the last day before deadline, or I was not well prepared for the interview? Does it sound I was not serious with them? Thanks!

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      No. Come up with a better reason – spin a story at a positive light

  56. Hi there,

    I networked with an analyst and he asked me some technical questions on the spot, and I couldn’t answer most of them since I have not started preparing for the technical questions–does that mean I have no chance with the firm at all?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      I wouldn’t say so because I wasn’t there though chances might be slim if you couldn’t impress him. But then again, an analyst doesn’t have much say in the hiring process. If you can get someone w the hiring power to like you, you will increase your chances significantly

      1. So would you recommend me to continue networking with more senior level people in the firm? Or practice the technical (which is what should be done anyways) and then “impress” him later.

        1. Avatar
          M&I - Nicole

          Yes continue networking & practise the technical at the same time

  57. Hi,
    I have been working in healthcare industry (In pharmaceuticals,operations- SALES and Marketing)for 14 years. Currently,I am at middle level management. I intend to do a MBA from an international school and am interested in getting into investment banking in the healthcare industry.
    The desire is driven by my basic strengths – analytical, strategic and learner. Am interested to get into M&A’s in Healthcare industry / strategy. Request your opinion on this shift at this point of my career.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      https://www.mergersandinquisitions.com/industry-specific-interviews/ should help when you land an interview. To land an interview, network extensively during your MBA

  58. Hi there,

    I was interning at a PE firm before and now would like to try ibd for a summer internship. What would be some good responses if they ask “Why would you move PE to IB?” Can I say that, being on the sell-side is more challenging and I definitely enjoy working under pressure?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      More transaction-based in an IB & more deal exposure. No, because working on buy-side can just be as challenging.

      1. Thanks for the response! And what would be a good answer when they ask “Why IB over S&T?”

        Moreover, do you think is a good idea to network with as many people as possible with one firm, since some of them might be the ones who interview me?

        1. Avatar
          M&I - Nicole

          IB = want to learn more about how M&A process works, understand how to value companies, be involved in due diligence process
          S&T = market driven; very fast paced; not project oriented like IB

          Yes. And other firms too.

          1. In terms of networking, I met this MD in person a couple months ago, and we had a good chat, but after a while I tried to set up another coffee chat with him, which he did agree and forwarded to his assistant to arrange it but his assistant never did, and afterward whenever I tried to e-mail him, he never replied back.Since now is recruiting season, do you think is a good idea for me to call him up?

            2nd question, I know normally you need a good reason to follow-up with the connections, but what would be a good reason or excuse to follow-up with them? And I guess since it’s recruiting season now, I should try to stay in touch with them at least once in every 2 months?

          2. Avatar
            M&I - Nicole

            Yes.

            Yes. Just follow up. They know you want a job, no need to sugar coat it.

  59. Hi,
    I’m currently pursuing my Bachelors degree in Electronics and Telecommunication (Penultimate year) in Bangalore, India. I’m planning on switching to finance or consulting at some point in the future. So, basically I should do an MBA after working for a few years? Are there any internships I could do before though? I get only about 4-6 weeks in Summer and a month during Christmas. Most of the companies I looked up offer an internship for a minimum 8-10 week period. Will this be a problem? And should I concentrate on my field now or try for training/internships in Finance (Which I have no knowledge about at the moment)?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Yes I’d suggest you to network with people in finance to see if they can make an exception for you so you can intern for a month. If you know you want to be in finance, focus on finding internships in finance so you have a better idea of what working in finance is like–this will allow you to better make decisions down the line

  60. Avatar
    Mohamed Fasil Rahiman

    Hi,
    I’m a B-tech(EEE) with an MBA.I have nearly 1 year experience in a trading firm.What are opportunities for me to get into investment banking jobs???

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Gain some modelling experience. Get an internship w a bank. Try to understand what IB is about and why you want to get into banking. Network extensively. Otherwise, your chances are low.

  61. hi, i belong more to the second category–econ major, boutique ibanking internship in the summer, now going for full time recruiting. i know what it is that started my interest in ibanking, but the problem is that i don’t know what i want to do in the long term. what do you recommend that i say then? thanks!

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      It is not a problem that you don’t know what you want to do in the long term – it is common; no one really knows.

      Just focus on the story of what got you interested in banking (spin it right) and what you think you can learn from being in banking (maybe the modelling skills, the magnitude of exposure to corporate clients which other companies can’t provide you, the caliber of the people you will be working with, etc). In terms of the LT goals, you might not have an idea of what it is you want to do, but try to visualize what it is you are trying to achieve in the LT (Hopefully sth business related; I’m sure you can come up with something) and link that w banking.

      1. could i just say that i’m not quite sure what i want to do in the long term, but i know that it will be something finance-related, so banking will… blahblah?

        1. Avatar
          M&I - Nicole

          Don’t say you are not quite sure of what you want to do because that will not come across as “attractive” to interviewers. Just think of a concrete story that attracted you to banking. If they press what you want to do in the LT, make up something that you actually somewhat believe in – maybe you envision urself climbing the ladders, eventually helping banks originate clients, etc

  62. Brian,

    You probably won’t be able to answer this in time, because my interview is tomorrow. Anyways, I am a graduate student in public policy, with an internship in management consulting, project finance, and currently as a federal employee researching financial regulations. I am interviewing for an analyst position at a middle market Ibank.

    I’m wondering if you have any general tips for someone with my sort of background.

    Thanks.

    1. That’s an interesting background. All you need to do now is craft your “story” to demonstrate why you want to be in finance.

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

    2. Just to add to that: Say that you wanted to do consulting to learn more about business, but realized you liked finance more and so you wanted to apply your pub policy background to project finance.

      But working there, you realized you were more interested in companies on a larger scale, which drew you to i-banking – in the meantime you’ve been researching financial regulations to gain further background knowledge which may help you in IB.

  63. hi,
    i read ur article..and it’s really helpful…i am an engineer and is interested to work in bank as a probationary officer. recently was interviewed in a bank…they put the usual question why u did engineering if u want to join a bank….
    i answered that engineering has developed my analytical skills…i can handle numeric data well and m looking forward for an administrative job…but seeing there expression they weren’t satisfied…by my ans….
    i really don’t have a story…for my intrest towards banking…..can you help me to put up my answer in a more precise way???

  64. Hi, I was in an interview not too long ago and I got asked a very tough question. The lady interviewing me asked me “How I felt about the financial companies and the recent public backlash against them”. What is the correct way to answer that?

  65. Hi Brian,

    Incredible site, entertaining and very informative. I’m about to be a senior at a target school with a pretty impressive resume… for a consultant. Two consulting internships, specialized workshops, clubs – ready for an MBB run. I applied to a few banks last year (and, miraculously, did walk away with one internship offer despite zero finance knowledge), but went with my consulting one instead. Now I’ve come to the realization that I seem far better suited for banking (for real resons, not models and bottles) and don’t know how to spin my consulting-centric resume. I’d love to get your input when you have a moment.

    Thanks,
    Chris

  66. my real reason is to assist the client with an multi-billionaire M&A or IPO and together make an impact on the industry n make it to the news headline. Is that too little? I am 22 looking for an internship and really dont have any family members in the field of finance or any good stories too add.

    1. sure sounds fine

  67. How diffcult is it for a CA fresher to get into investment banking?

    1. Depends on the school you go to and how much you network…

  68. Brian,

    I wish I had come to this site earlier!!! I am going to be a senior at a target school and I had applied to about 15 banking internships and only got one interview which I didn’t get an offer for. I am doing a wealth management internship at a BB right now and I am majoring in Statistics and Economics. I have a very high GPA, above 3.9 and have taken a good number of “quant” classes, ie (stochastic processes, linear modeling, time series, etc). The problem I am having right now is how I sell myself. I am legitimately interested in I-banking, not like some people who are only for the money. Do you know how an interviewer might see my background and what you suggest is the most important thing I focus on right now in going after a full-time analyst position? Thank you so much, really wish you had a donate link!!

    1. Yeah I would focus on how wealth management was good to get you exposed but you wanted something higher-profile; skip the quant classes as that will make you look even rose.

      1. By higher-profile, do you mean like “I wanted something that involved researching and advising for larger clients, i.e. institutions?”

        Also, sorry but what do you mean by even rose? Thanks for the kind help, I am planning on buying your kit soon!

        1. Meant “even worse,” typo. Yes, higher profile = advising bigger clients on much bigger deals.

          1. Hi, one final question, my friend was asked “so why exactly do you “like” advising for larger companies. What would be a good response to that? He was interviewing at Goldman for Superday and he said he believed that his BS answer to this was the biggest reason he didn’t get an offer.

          2. Say that it lets you explore more complex issues that you wouldn’t learn about on smaller deals… on smaller deals people tend to get paranoid/stupid about tiny issues that don’t matter, whereas on larger ones you get to learn about things like integration, cross-border M&A law, etc. that you don’t get exposed to on local ones.

  69. Thanks Brian! Your articles are really helpful and they give me a lot to think about. I am a rising sophomore at a pretty good college and currently having an intership in a hegdge fund company. My question is, I know i am interested in M&A but a lot of my past experiences are trading/equity research related. If the interviewer asks me why investment banking, I don’t know exactly how to tell my story from those trading/equity research experience. Can you give me some advice? Thanks !

    1. Just say you thought trading would be more interesting but over time realized you like working on longer-term projects and getting to play a role in what entire companies are doing

  70. Hey Brian,

    Great articles. I’m currently at my engineering related internship, (only a freshman transitioning to a sophomore so I took whatever I could get). I’ve been interested in Finance and Investment banking for a while now, and when I get back to school, I’m going to change my major back to Finance, and apply to the school’s business program and honors college.
    The thing is though, I go to UMass Amherst. I know it’s not the greatest school, so I was wondering what my chances are of landing a solid investment banking internship next summer/studying abroad junior year and staying for the summer for an international experience in ibanking? Anything I should do to help my case?

    Thanks for any help, again, I love your articles, I need to seriously get back to work at this internship haha.

    Ram

    1. Also, should I try and transfer to a better school after my sophmore year?

    2. Sorry, last one haha.
      Will going to an “average” undergrad school hurt me a lot from getting into a top MBA program?

      1. Somewhat but not as much as it hurts you getting into banking

    3. It will be pretty tough coming from there, you would have to go to a boutique and/or network a ton (see the case studies under Recruiting)

  71. Hi,

    Thank you for the great article.

    I am a final semester engineering undergraduate (expected to graduate in July) from University of New South Wales. I have developed keen interest in joining IB.

    I have a 3.9/4 GPA and held various leadership position in curricular activities. However, I do not have any finance related industry internship.

    What do you think is my chance of breaking into IB with my current background (I am aiming Australia and Asia due to my personal background) and I would really appreciate any advice in terms of securing a graduate position in one of the bulge bracket banks.

    Thank you.

    ps: I have read your article on engineers breaking into IB.

    1. You have a chance, mostly because fewer people do internships in Australia. In other regions it would be nearly impossible with no finance-related internships. If you look at the case studies under the Recruiting page at the top you’ll see some interview with readers in similar positions.

      1. Thank you for your input.

  72. Hi,

    Nice article, thanks.

    I recently graduated from a top undergrad B school and did an ibanking internship at a boutique in NYC. However, I decided to pass on their offer or try to move to a bigger bank and instead took a consulting position at a start-up consulting firm. Now I’m thinking, though, that I should have stayed in banking.

    How hard do you think it will be to get back into banking with this background?

    Thanks.

    1. Harder than it would have been had you stayed at the boutique bank, from consulting it’s tough outside the top 3 firms

  73. Hi Brian,

    Great article, thank you for putting all the info on.

    I am a final year undergraduate student from a top Australia university. I have a 3.8+ GPA and past internship in a big four accounting firm (doing auditing work). I am now interning at morningstar (equity data team). But I really want to get into investment banking or sales & trading.

    I will graduate by the end of this year, so I will participate into the upcoming graduate recruitment in fall.

    Could you please suggest how much chance I can get into either IB or S&T? Which one do you think better for me to apply later?

    Thanks

    1. forgot to mention, I am looking for the opportunities in Asia, like Hongkong, Singapore and mainland China

    2. IB is easier if you’ve done auditing as they look for different qualities… good comparison here https://www.mergersandinquisitions.com/sales-trading-vs-investment-banking-part-1-recruiting/

  74. Great article, I am not sure if my story however would cut it… I think that while it is genuine, I feel it might come across as a bit thin?

    Basically I want to get into investment banking because I love business, and I enjoy reading about too many different industries to actually pick one to work for in particular… so I figured that investment banking gives me exposure to many different industries, as well as being able to perform the role of finance which I find interesting (valuation etc.)

    Thats my primary reason, however I dont know if it will cut it with the interviewer. My father used to be the director of the retail loans division for one of the top 4 banks in Australia and ran the short term money market operations in the same bank at one point. Through this I gained an insight into the banking world and loved his crazy stories about the ridiculous hours and awesome things that happened whilst he was working in these positions.

    Should I use this in my ‘story’ for interviewers instead, or perhaps combine the two? It seems as a more tangible link to interest rather than a embedded interest that I have developed over my time in university.

    Awesome site by the way, I have been trawling it the past week or so gleaning every single piece of information I can get from it!

    E

    1. I think your family connection is the stronger story here, so I would combine these or just go with that one

  75. Avatar
    StoryTime

    I have 2 stories. This is for associate level.

    1)Story: My dad is a banker. He was an EVP and Secretary to the Board of Directors at his bank. So there was a banking ‘atmosphere’ in my house and I always had an interest in finance and followed business news. I chose engineering in undergrad as I loved fiddling around with gadgets. I worked in engineering for a few years to understand the industry and now I want to do banking in Diversified Industries (my current field of work). I knew I wanted to be a BFL (like my dad) hence I am here sitting in front of you interviewing for associate positions.

    What actually happened: I knew I wanted to become a BFL like my dad. So I decided to take a “regular” job and enjoy my early 20s and not become a banking analyst and work 100hrs/week(I knew I entering at associate level was better for BFL). So if I mention my dad will I across as unoriginal and uncreative who follows the herd (in this case my dad)? Or would it be good as they know I have a ‘background’ in finance and am actually committed to the field and won’t jump off to PE or HF?

    2) Use the template your provided in your article on how to break into investment banking as an engineer and not mention my family angle and instead use some other “spark” like an informational interview with alumni or case competition etc and just pretend that I had never heard of banking before in my life?

    Thanks so much for your time and help!

    1. Avatar
      StoryTime

      I am not sure about the US, but in my country I have seen associates jumping off to PE/HF, hence I mentioned it.

    2. You can still use that story, the family angle isn’t necessarily bad. If you don’t have another good reason just use that story.

  76. Hi Brain,

    Thank you very much for the article.

    My academic backgrand is a mess, I’ve always wanted to consult with someone because I’m planning to work in the Investment Banking industry. Could you please give me some advice if you don’t mind to read the long story?

    I started my A levels in 2003 and was accepted by Oxford University conditioned on two ‘A’s at my final A level exams, so I dropped the third A level subject and got only 2 completed A levels with ‘A’s then started to study at Oxford in 2005. That’s when and where I became an alcoholic and committed an eating disorder…
    I didn’t take the problems that serious at the time as I thought I was just unhappy and trying to avoid studying. So I blamed myself badly, the more I felt guilty the worse I performed at uni and the serious I suffered from the problems. I got kicked out from Oxford after the first year in 2006. I had to take a year out and take another A level subject as there’s no good university would accept a student with only two completed A levels.
    I re-started at another relatively good university in 2007 and changed the subject from Physics to Computing. But I was still having the problems with food and alcohol, which had had strongly affected my daily life. In 2008, I got kicked out from uni again..
    Then I went to a rehab and have been seeing a doctor to treat the problems while studying Finance at another university. The reason I chose to study Finance at the beginning was that only this Finance course at University C accepted me without asking any explanation of why I left the other two universities.
    I have been recovering well and started to feel that I can study as how I used to. (ps I was a really good student and very hard-working before becoming an alcoholic…)
    Although I didn’t know anything about finance before, I found Finance is most interesting subject I’ve ever studied, and I’ve visited many banks in the City and talked to many bankers recently. I have to say that I love what they do and I want to be one of them…
    I read an article on this website, it’s about if you are not a graduate from a top university, it is a good choice to take a Master’s degree at one the top business schools. I’ll do what you suggested. I’m planning to do a Masters at LSE after I graduate in 2012 and I believe I can make it.

    Now, the problem is I will be 27 when I start to work.
    Firstly, I don’t know if I will be too old to become an analyst. I remember you mentioned in one of the articles that the banks tend to hire people below the age of 26 as analysts…
    Secondly, I cannot explain what happend to me in the past. I don’t think they will consider suffering from eating disorder is an acceptable excuse of getting kicked out from uni twice and also, honestly, I don’t want to tell them that I had those problems.
    I need an explanation. The banks are going to know which schools I’ve attended to after GCSEs…Could you please give me some advice? Can I make up an excuse based on the truth but without mentioning I was an alcoholic and had to make myself throw up everyday? I’m sure I can control myself now and concentrate on studying and working well, but how can I make them believe it?

    Many thanks,

    1. https://www.mergersandinquisitions.com/age-investment-banking/ Um I would just tell them a story that says you had problems in the past but have now completely recovered and will be fine going forward, don’t go into details or they will start to doubt everything you say.

      1. Thank you very much for your reply.

  77. Can I just say it’s for the money, to be honest?

      1. HAHAHHAHAHAHHAHAHAHA

  78. Thank you for this website – I really find the information I have read so far very valuable. I graduated from an undergraduate business school this past May with a degree in Finance, a 3.7 GPA, and several interesting extracurriculars. My school is non-ivy league, but is in the top 10 business schools in the nation. I interned in private wealth management last summer at JP Morgan and ended up taking the wrong path after graduation, accepting an offer in consulting instead because I was wary of signing a 3-year contract without being 100% sure what I wanted (I am currently not under contract.) I really want to get into asset/portfolio management or investment banking at a bulge bracket — am I at a huge disadvantage considering I have already graduated?

    I have performed excellently on my current job, have really good SAT scores (2190), and am a CFA candidate. My interest, hunger, and skills are definitely there, but I’m nervous that my only option is applying online next fall for the following summer and that people don’t even read these applications, but without campus recruiting I feel it is my only option.

    Any suggestions on how to break into the field as a new graduate, but still not the traditional entry-level candidate? (I actually want to apply to an entry-level position to be trained properly in the industry)

    Thanks for your help.

    1. Depends where the consulting offer is. If it’s at MBB you can still move into banking at this stage. https://www.mergersandinquisitions.com/consulting-to-finance/

  79. Hi Brian, This is a great site. I was wondering If i can brake into IB with 2:1 bachelors degree in International business from an average university, but with not much experience. I did vacation work in sales and marketing, also in recruitment consultancy and work for three years in respected bar and restaurant while in University. im 25 years old and highly interested in IB, do you think i still have a chance to brake into investment banking?

    1. also thank you for this site. very helpful

    2. It’s tough with that background because others will have lots of finance experience – you’d need to get equivalent experience or go to business school.

  80. This is a great site. Not just for investment banking but for interviewing and recruiting in general. Thanks for this resource. I’ve been reading a lot of your material on interviewing essentials, especially the “how to get into banking from accounting” and I feel like I’ve crafted a good genuine story that is unique.
    I’ve struggled through the job market and I’m still here however I lack experience. Right now I am in a masters program for accounting and I studied math and econ undergrad at a top school. I had a “gap” year where I was taking prereqs in order to get into a masters program.
    My story is hard to tell because it seems as though I am focused on a career in accounting, but I have always been interested in finance. In the beginning my interest stemmed more from the glamour of investment banking without really knowing what it was all about. My interest has matured greatly over the past year and a half. I’ve grown up around entrepreneurial minds and naturally I took an interest in VC/PE. I realized how critical it is for business to have services that advise them on capital raising and expansion. My skill-set and interests are perfectly in line with invest banking and I know this is what I want to do now.
    My story also involves the, “why investment banking question?” so what happens if I tell my story and they ask me, “why do you want to be a banker? why now?” when I’ve already answered it in my story?

    Also, my undergrad gpa is crummy and not reflective of my abilities which is my fault. I feel as though I’ve proven myself post=grad though by excelling in all of my accounting and finance classes. I’m not sure this will be enough. I do have an extensive alumni network in top banks though. Do you think I have a fighting chance?

    Loving all the material. Thanks again. Happy Holidays.

    1. Just answer it again and go into more detail. GPA depends on how bad it was but if it was above 3.0 or so you still have a shot with networking.

  81. Avatar
    John Salmons

    Hi M%I,

    Thanks for the helpful article. For answering “Why IB?” you recommend talking about personal experiences, such as how your parents traded, and you started following the market – but I am having a hard time learning how to spin that to why IB. Wouldn’t that make you more interested in S&T or AM – something that deals with the markets?

    Thanks in advance for your insight.

    1. The point is to show how you became interested in finance, broadly speaking, and then became more interested in IB after that initial “spark.”

  82. Hey Brain,

    I am an engineering student but began interested in corporate finance from end of second year. However, I only managed to get an internship in GS ops. I am now looking for full-time in corporate finance. How should I better position myself in answering this question?

    Also, another typical question is when i answered I am interested in corporate side of banking, they will ask me why not consulting? You have any insight on answering this?

    Thanks in advance,
    Hao

    1. https://www.mergersandinquisitions.com/getting-a-finance-job-from-engineering/ Why not consulting, because you want to look at higher-level issues and make more of an impact… consultants’ recommendations rarely get implemented. https://www.mergersandinquisitions.com/consulting-to-finance/

  83. Dear Brain,

    1. I am a student at a target university with a 3.5 cumulative GPA Do you think this is enough to get into any of the bulge bracket banks? I’ve heard you need at least a 3.7.

    2. I often it’s difficult to talk to people you met after an informational interview and before you ask them for help for recruiting. Is emailing about things happening in their industry good?

    Thank you!

  84. Hi Brian, my internship was an internal auditing position in a small manufacturing company. I wonder how I could link my working experience to my interest in investment banking during the interview. By the way, if I am applying for an operations analyst (back office), will I be asked similar technical questions as I would get for a sales/trading analyst (like concepts related to CAPM/DCF/IPO)? Thanks!

    1. Usually back office interviews are less technical but you could still get those types of questions. For linking your interest just talk about how you got exposed to deals or M&A activity or partnerships or something like that while working at the manufacturing company.

  85. Hi Brain, I need your suggestion on landed a job on wall street as a financial analyst first. I am 28 yrs, old and I graduated from a non ivy league college with a 2.99 GPA. I got a bachelors in business management and a minor in finance. I currently do a Master’s In Organizational Leadership. I did a financial modeling course last yr with the Analyst Exchange it cost me about $2,500. I still feel I need some more skills. What is the best program you guys have that I should take? What are some books that I should read? I have a 3month goal to land this career job. Can you help me please.

    1. Don’t waste time or money on courses – with 6 years of experience, a 3.0 GPA and a non-ivy league school you have no chance of breaking in right now. Either do a top MBA program if you can get in or forget about banking and do trading at a small prop trading firm instead.

  86. Hi Brian- I’m an economics major and only know I want to do something related to business in the future. So will saying I want to be an advisor to companies sound a bit off? And saying that means I can’t use the ‘I’m not sure…” route in the where do you see yourself in years anymore right? Thanks!

    1. I think that’s fine. You can just say you don’t know exactly which companies you will be advising etc.

  87. Could you provide some advice for the situation i’m currently in? I’m 19 this year and has been in architecture for almost 2 years. I found out about IB few months ago doing research for an investment challenge game, and am deeply interested in it.

    I’m planning to take A levels next year, and then a Bachelor at a target school. If all goes well, I’d graduate at 24, or 25. Will I be too old to be an analyst?

    Another path that I have in mind is to take up a foundation course, which will lead to a University of London External Programme, graduate around 23, or 24 then going for Master’s at target schools. Do graduating one or a couple years earlier matter a lot in IB?

    1. Answered in the other thread where you asked… age is fine, either option works but you really need to focus on getting finance work experience.

      1. Do you mean finance work experience as in internship, or real proper job experience?

        1. Internships if you haven’t graduated

  88. Hey Brian!

    Thanks for your awesome posts, I think I have covered almost all of them and they definitely give the best insights I’ve heard into the ibanking world. I am a rising junior in a top ten college, for my experiences I have been doing nonprofit and several marketing internships in the past and right now I am trying to figure out how to tell recruiters that I am interested in ibanking after not so much finance experience. I am trying to figure out how in my interview I could say how I have apply the skills that I learned in marketing to ibanking, do you have any suggestions of skills that recruiters would especially like from marketing? Thanks so much!!

    1. Tell them you know how to manage clients, set expectations, and pitch companies’ products… which are transferrable to banking because you’re also managing clients, pitching, and so on

  89. Yep I’ll definitely try to get personal with the question. But what exactly about businesses that we learn in I-Banking? I can back up the corporate finance part, but still haven’t figured out how to respond if, for example, they ask what you hope to learn about businesses by being an IBanking analyst.

    1. You learn how management teams think through decisions, plan strategy, and decide how to use financing and acquisitions to build their businesses.

  90. Hey Brian- Is it ok to say you wanna do i-banking because it gives you exposure to corporate finance and the fundamentals of business given my interests in doing business in the future? I’m not really sure about the business part because from what I have been told, analysts don’t get much exposure to the details of operating business or how it really works whether being in M&A or specific industry groups. But you still work on big business transactions, so what would be the correct way to phrase this?

    1. You can say that but it sounds kind of generic – better to get something more personal if you can. I might not say “fundamentals of business” for the reasons you stated, you really don’t learn about the operations of real companies that much.

  91. Great site!

    I was wondering would internship experience at the World Bank be looked upon positively by investment banks? I will be working in the Transportation division in Beijing, China

    Thanks

    1. Better than something non-finance-related, but not as good as IB/PE/HF and so on.

  92. Hi, I read your The Banker Blueprint. In your example of expressing the career goal, you said “I want to go into venture capital and doing investment banking is the perfect way to get there”. I need to ask you if it is safe to say you want to get to point B and using point A as a step, as in my career class in school I was taught to express long-term commitment to a position. Now I have an interview for a risk reporting position in a bank, can I tell the interviewer that I want to eventually do risk management and I see this risk reporting role a great way to get there (as through which I can learn the work knowledge about the risk)?

    1. It is safe to say that if you’re going for analyst-level positions, for associate level you want to be more committed.

  93. Hi, I read your <>. In your example of expressing the career goal, you said “I want to go into venture capital and doing investment banking is the perfect way to get there”. I need to ask you if it is safe to say you want to get to point B and using point A as a step, as in my career class in school I was taught to express long-term commitment to a position. Now I have an interview for a risk reporting position in a bank, can I tell the interviewer that I want to eventually do risk management and I see this risk reporting role a great way to get there (as through which I can learn the work knowledge about the risk)?

  94. Hey,
    I’ve been reading here for a while, since i understood that i wanna do I-banking … Im a smart software guy with excellent personal skills and very good with math …

    Do i need an MBA to go into IB or there’s ANY chance someone will accept me as-is and let me learn/develop while working (my ass off, i know) ?

    thx

    1. Depends how long you’ve been working. Over 2-3 years and an MBA is your best bet.

      1. Over 7 years of software development and lots of client facing time …

        Guess the MBA is my next step then.

  95. I am using your template to apply to sales & trading – I have been trading my own account for a couple of months now and wanted to mention this, where is the best place, how much should I say?

    1. You could say that in your rationale for how you got interested in trading – either mention it in the beginning when you’re explaining why, or say it at the end right before you conclude and remind them why you’re there.

      1. Avatar
        Tom Clayson

        Probably best to do that in the covering letter then?
        Also – do you think it would be ok to mention freelance ‘work’ in the work and leadership section? I code trading systems and technical indicators on a freelance basis, but again wasn’t sure whether this is legitimate ‘work’?

        Thanks for your time.

        1. No one reads cover letters. :) Freelance work is fine to mention, but if it’s programming I would not highlight it too much.

  96. Coming from a liberal arts school with no quantitative background, I feel like I’ve been completely tanking at my first month of work. My associate constantly reprimands me, and because I was put immediately on a deal, I feel like I’ve had no time to even learn that everything needs to be formatted, even for internal calculations, or little things like checking for updated stock prices. How do I make sure my reputation doesn’t get completely shot and that I’m not fired before Christmas?

    1. Talk to someone who knows what’s going on (i.e. 2nd/3rd year analyst) and figure out all their tricks and how they learned the ropes.

  97. Brian, what are your thoughts on Teach For America straight out of undergrad? Would a program like this help with finance/consulting/b-school/corporate recruiting? Thanks.

    1. It’s a good program, but it’s always tougher to get into those fields if you’ve already graduated… it has a solid alumni network and it might be good for business school, but it’s still going to be tougher to get into competitive fields afterward.

  98. I’m currently a sophomore at a non-target and will be transferring to a target school starting next fall. My question is, is it really that important to have a sophomore year summer internship? I do fully plan on having a junior year BB IBD internship, however, I probably can’t get a relevant finance related internship sophomore year. Would not having a PWM internship or a “typical” sophomore summer internship really look bad and put me at a disadvantage vs. others that did have sophomore internships; when it comes to junior year internships and eventually FT recruiting?

    Thanks for your continued help!!

    1. You’re at a disadvantage but you can still get an internship the next year.

  99. Do you think it is a bad idea to take an offer at Citi or BofA considering their financial situation? How much better is it to go to GS or MS?

    1. If those are your only options, I would take them. But if you have offers at any other banks the others are probably better.

  100. At what age to bankers typically start doing their MBA in order to move into PE?

    1. You don’t need an MBA to do PE. Most bankers move in after 2 years, though some do so later than that.

      1. So how many years into their PE Career do they decide to to do their MBA?

        1. MBA is not necessary for PE. In fact, most bankers who transition in don’t have an MBA… they might go to back to school a few years afterward, but it’s not necessary.

  101. I think the real underlying lesson here is that if you can’t think of an honestl and good answer to “Why Investment Banking?” that truly comes from your personal experiences and inclinations, then you should probably consider another career.

    For those who are truly serious about IB and their respective career paths following an analyst stint (or those truly serious about an IB career for incoming associates) would not have much of a problem with this question.

    So, the only real answer to “Why Investment Banking?”, imho, is to do some serious soul-searching until you can pinpoint exactly why.

    1. Avatar
      Eshan Sharma

      I totally agree with Sofia.

  102. According to current situation on global market = downturn + threat that France and Germany will convince England to reduce/vanish bonuses for Ibankers, I think, now it’s better to go into MC. Why?
    1.salary of analyst: 60000 + 0-10000 bonus in both industries the same.
    2. MC works less hard than IB, right?
    3. MC get perks as points on loyalty programs so after getting retired will travel&sleep in hotel for free
    4. better exit opportunities which in today’s world, when everything changes so dynamically, constitutes definitely great advantage.
    but still
    5. MC not as prestigious as IB – well, IMHO

    1. Avatar
      Summer Analyst

      I’d still do IB even if it was 50k-70k with no bonus.

    2. Bankers still make more than consultants, even in a downturn.

      While “the hours” in consulting are not as long on paper, you travel almost every week and that gets very tiring. No matter how cool it sounds at first, living out of a hotel and getting on multiple flights each week gets old very fast.

      As far as exit opportunities, you could argue it gives you a broader set but honestly you’re at a big disadvantage if you want to get into finance from consulting.

  103. Is 24 too old to be an analyst?? Can you give me a rough percentage of ppl who are 20-22 and 23-25? Thanks!

    1. It’s not too old, I know people who got in older than that. Don’t know exact percentages but basically no one is under 22.

      1. Could you provide some advice for the situation i’m currently in? I’m 19 this year and has been in architecture for almost 2 years. I found out about IB few months ago doing research for an investment challenge game, and am deeply interested in it.

        I’m planning to take A levels next year, and then a Bachelor. If all goes well, I’d graduate at 24, or 25. Will I be too old to be an analyst?

        Another path that I have in mind is to take up a foundation course, which will lead to a University of London External Programme, graduate around 23, or 24 then going for Master’s at target schools.

        1. https://www.mergersandinquisitions.com/age-investment-banking/

          Those plans are both fine; you really need to get finance-related work experience though.

  104. How do you ensure that you will get asked this question on its own? I know you’re supposed to talk about your “story”, touch upon past experience, and how this led you to banking. So I feel like you have to mention a little about why you’re there interviewing for investment banking – but if you do, you risk that they may not ask it specifically on its own and then you don’t get a chance to fully explain why banking.

    Also, if you’ve had an interest in business for a while, and majored in Finance, shouldn’t you talk more specifically about why banking (as opposed to S&T for example) – and in banking you gain a more diverse skill-set and learn more about the industry than any other job? Thanks again.

    1. There’s no way to “ensure” that you’ll get this question – sometimes they’ll ask explicitly, and sometimes they won’t. You definitely need to touch on this in your story though – and I would remind them at the end once again why you’re there and how it’s connected to your future.

      I would not mention why banking vs. S&T because then it makes them think that you might be interested in other fields – focus on the “why banking” rather than “Why it’s better than other alternatives.”

      1. I understand we shouldn’t talk much about the alternative but I was asked this very question: why ib and not consulting? What would I say then?

        1. Avatar
          M&I - Nicole

          Good question.

          I’d try to relate a personal story to why I want to do banking (this builds rapport). I’d say that I’m more interested in understanding how to execute M&A deals/IPO processes/pick stocks (depends on which group(s) you’re interviewing for) vs helping companies improve their performance in consulting. Also say that you think IB produces more “tangible results” – bankers typically make far more of an impact than consultants. True, some transactions fall apart, but when they happen you get a new public company or a new conglomerate. By contrast, you never know if the recommendations consultants make will be implemented

          1. EXCELLENT answer! Thank you very much!

  105. Dang! This article is one day too late.
    I was asked exactly the same question at an interview with a boutique yesterday.
    My background is on the buy side (asset management) and I also just got through my CFA Level I. So they pointedly asked me why I was interviewing for Investment Banking at all. I don’t think I made the cut.
    This would have helped so much.

    Oh, BTW, whoever has not bought Brian’s Interview Questions book should go and do so NOW. All the technical questions I was asked was straight out of that book. If only I had paid more attention to those fit questions…

    1. Well, thanks for the endorsement.

      Yeah you have to be prepared for this question in any interview, even if it’s not for banking – but hopefully you have a better idea now.

    2. which book were you talking about? Brian’s Interview Questions book? do you have the full title of that book?

  106. Off topic comment but after thinking a long time about what I want to do after banking I realized I would like to go into S&T. Any idea on how to position myself when contacting recruiters? I realize it will be harder to break in but definitely what i want to do after, any advice is much appreciated.

    (to the poster above Public finance does not = PE and HF. You are raising money via bonds IE: Muni bonds for a road, so its all capital raising, might be useful transition into an ECM role at a bank but PE / HF will not like it as much as it is 1. not related to the market and 2. no modeling experience. Still better than not being in IB though)

    1. Hmm, you need to focus on your interest in the markets and any evidence of trading / personal portfolios etc. that you have. Say you learned a lot in banking and did well, but realized you’re more interested in following the market and the news each day rather than the long-term projects you get in banking.

  107. Does this relate to all aspects of investment banking including the public finance group at BB firms? Also, can you shed some light on the PF group? Is it actually investment banking? Are there similar exit opps to PE or VC or HF? Does it help for b school? thanks brian!

    1. Yes, it applies to other groups but of course you need to modify it somewhat based on the group. I don’t know too much about the PF group but most people would not consider it “investment banking” – you can still move elsewhere afterward, but it’s not the same as banking. May help for b-school, but most people think it’s a notch below banking.

      1. PF is placed in IBD at most firms, however, it is not very similar in nature to regular investment banking due to the nature of the types of projects financed.

      2. PF is placed in IBD at most firms, however, it is not very similar in nature to regular investment banking due to the public nature of projects financed.

  108. Great article again Brian.

    You mentioned that for an engineering, you can use the background in tech + interest in finance = success in becoming a tech investor

    But how about if you are interviewing with a generalist group or some group that is not tech related? Do you just change the tech investor portion into something else?

    Thanks a bunch.

    Eric

    1. I think we talked about this before, but yeah I would just say something like, “I’m interested in learning about a different industry and either being an investor there or starting a company there one day” and mention how your technical background gave you the analytical skills necessary to do it.

  109. Thanks for this site, I have found it extremely helpful.

    I got into an early MBA program at a top 3 bschool right out of undergrad, and the program requires me to work for 2-3 years. I currently work a corporate job and I was hoping to leverage the prestige for a better pre-MBA job.

    I have no banking experience but I have done some corporate finance and some consulting type stuff.

    I was wondering how someone would view the early MBA thing, does it help me at all?

    1. It may help a bit but usually they only care if you’ve actually completed the program. It’s still worth mentioning but I don’t know that the program itself will help that much.

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