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The best career advice from senior investment bankers in 2016

career advice

When senior finance professionals unveil their pearls of wisdom about what it takes to move up the ranks in this highly-competitive industry, maybe you should listen. Throughout 2016, we’ve interviewed senior people working across various areas of investment banking and the buy-side. This is our pick of the best advice.

Expand your horizons before joining banking

“I would encourage the next generation of investment bankers to experience as much as they can. Find out what you like, and I don’t just mean financial services. Get as much experience as you can in as many industries as you can to find out what you really enjoy.”

Michael Lavelle, UK and Ireland head of corporate and investment banking and EMEA vice chairman of corporate and investment banking at Citigroup

Take every opportunity

“Longevity in investment banking is down to being able to reinvent yourself when the opportunity presents itself. I’ve been here since 1996, and I’ve set up an insurance and pensions group at Deutsche Bank, managed to convince the firm to invest money in Abbey Life assurance business, I’ve been the COO of the capital markets business and now moved back into a client facing division in CIB. Personally, I’d be bored if I didn’t move between roles, but I’d say that any experience makes you a more valuable commodity, so don’t specialise from day one.”

Rashid Zuberi, global head of the financing and solutions group (FSG) at Deutsche Bank

Don’t leap across to the buy-side without researching the role

I’ve known people who have switched across [to private equity] at the right time, managed to move up the ranks and it’s worked for them. However, I’ve had conversations with other juniors who have told me that, honestly, the work is essentially the same – just from the other side of the table, the hours aren’t much better and the pay is on a par with investment banking. And I certainly see juniors here getting daily exposure to the most senior members of the firm.”

Ben Thompson, a managing director in J.P. Morgan’s high yield and leveraged loan capital markets team

Don’t rely purely on your intellect

“Business is not an intellectual process. The people who succeed are the ones with the dedicated and willingness to withstand pain until they can made a difference.”

Guy Hands, founder and CEO, Terra Firma

Be loyal, at least for a while

“I essentially worked at two firms throughout my career, and most of the successful people I’ve known stayed within a good institution. They know you, you can build up trust and there are far more opportunities over the years than if you job-hop. Maybe I’m just preaching my own career, but you see more seniority, a more integrated career and, over time, more cash than if you job hop.”

Kevin Rodgers, the former global head of FX at Deutsche Bank

Never assume you’ve made it

“There are a number of reasons people don’t make it to associate, but often it’s about having the maturity to manage down as well as up. Associates are both more exposed to clients, but they also have to begin to manage people. What’s more, even juniors – which are knee-deep in the financial analytics – are expected to have an opinion on a deal.”

Robert Ramsauer, senior managing director at Blackstone

Contact: pclarke@efinancialcareers.com

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