You want to work in M&A or the broader IBD (investment banking division) of an investment bank. You want to help companies buy and sell their component parts (M&A). Or you want to help companies raise money on the debt capital markets (DCM), or the equity capital markets (ECM). So, what does it take to get that job?
We've looked at our own database of millions of CVs and cross-referenced them with publicly available data on IBD juniors. We've also added anecdotal information about what it takes to get ahead in the investment banking division. The result is the infographic below.
There are some surprises. Historically, young IBD professionals took on a two year 'analyst' banking contract after graduating. When that finished, they quit to study a two year MBA and when the MBA finished they returned to banks as 'associates'. This was especially the case in the U.S. However, Goldman Sachs did away with its two year contracts in 2012, and our data suggests that more M&A bankers now have a CFA pass to their name than an MBA.
It's also worth remembering that when they hire IBD professionals, banks are looking for an unusual personality type. As Xanyar Kamangar, a director in the Technology, Media and Telecoms at Deutsche Bank, points out, IBD professionals need impeccable attention to detail - a mistake a presentation or financial model can lose a client. But they also need to be able to step back and to see the bigger picture.
Linos Lekkas, Citigroup's head of corporate and investment banking for CEEMEA (Central and Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa), put it another way, At the start of your career in IBD [when you're working on spread sheets and putting pitches together for clients], he says you need to be able to work hard and to establish yourself as a, "safe and reliable pair of hands. If you can’t get that right and get the recognition you need as a solid base, you’ll be seen as talented but possibly unreliable."
But as you progress up the hierarchy in IBD, Lekkas says charisma becomes the characteristic that defines success: "Whether you’re an industry person or a product person, you ultimately need to be good with people – both internally and externally. You can be very talented and very mathematical, but the combination of effort and personality is what will truly make you stand out."