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How soon before you become an MD in investment banking?

Managing director in investment bank

You'll get there, but it may take 17 years

How long does it really take before you become a managing director (MD) in investment banking? And does your level of education make much difference to the speed of your promotion?

In theory, it should be possible to hit MD after around 10 years: three years as an analyst, three years as an associate, three years as a vice president (VP), and a year or so as an executive director or director.

In reality, it takes a lot, lot longer. Data from eFinancialCareers’ CV database suggests the average finance professional takes 17.5 years to achieve MD status in banking after leaving university. Studying a masters degree or MBA makes a bit of a difference – although barely when you factor in the additional two years spent studying these courses.

Naturally, there are exceptions. Take Kunal Shah, head of emerging markets trading EMEA at Goldman Sachs. Shah became an MD at Goldman Sachs in 2010, aged just 27. He became a partner in 2014, aged just 31. Those promotions came six and ten years into his finance career respectively.

Not everyone can be Shah. In most cases, making it to the top of an investment bank is a long slog. Just because you’re not there by the time you’re in your early 30s doesn’t mean you should lose hope.

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