Investment management offers some of the most sought after graduate roles in finance. It can be fast-paced, demanding and potentially very lucrative. Here’s an overview of the sort of roles you could apply for and how to stand out from the crowd.
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What graduate roles are there in Investment Management and how can you apply?
What is Investment Management?
As the name suggests, Investment Management is about managing clients’ investments – choosing which assets to buy in order to get them the financial return they want at the level of risk they’re comfortable with.
What roles are there in Investment Management?
At its simplest, there are four main roles in Investment Management:
- Analysts research and analyse potential investment areas, markets and individual stocks and shares
- Investment managers make investment choices based on their own knowledge and analysts’ reports
- Sales and client relations teams market the company and its products to potential and current investors
- Infrastructure teams keep the company running – everything from IT to HR. These aren’t financial roles so we won’t discuss them here but they’re vitally important to the running of the company
As a graduate interested in finance, you would naturally start out as an analyst before becoming an investment manager. If you show outstanding people skills you might move into client relations later on.
Both analysts and investment managers tend to specialise. Most analysts will become expert in a particular area such as pharmaceuticals, property or an emerging market. For investment managers there’s even more choice of specialisms. For example:
- Fund management – creating an investment portfolio using a pool of money from many different investors. Individual or corporate investors can buy into and out of the fund via a bank or broker
- Private wealth management – managing the wealth of high net worth individuals. This involves maximising the individual’s wealth as well as understanding their life goals and making investments to meet them
- Institutional business – similar to private wealth management but based around the needs of a business instead of an individual
Large vs boutique
There are two very different types of firms that offer investment management services: large firms and boutique firms.
Investment banks such as Goldman Sachs tend to have large, well-developed asset management divisions. These will be well regulated with set procedures and career paths.
Boutique firms are much smaller. They’re more flexible, more unpredictable and may offer more autonomy and responsibility early in your career. However they may not offer a set career path – at times, the only way to move up will be to move out.
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Internships and graduate roles
As we’ve seen there are a number of specialisms and two main different types of company you can join. Both boutique and larger firms offer summer internships that can potentially lead to a permanent role. Internships may be based around a specialism such as private wealth management or they may be more general.
As a graduate, you may also have decided on your specialism – and in a boutique investment management company this may be decided for you based on the specialism of the firm.
The best thing to do is research both larger and smaller companies and find roles that best suit your interests.
What are firms looking for and how can you stand out?
Investment management firms are looking for:
- excellent analytical ability
- passion for financial markets
- communication and interpersonal skills
- time management, organisation and multi-tasking
- desire to work in a fast-paced environment
- client-oriented attitude
- inquisitiveness and focus
- collaborative and team-working abilities
To stand out, the best thing you can do is to demonstrate your passion for investing. Interviewers will expect you to know about individual stocks that interest you. You should be able to explain why you would pick them, based on sound reasoning. Your interviewer will be most interested in your thought processes.
It isn’t enough to know about current events in the financial markets. You need to have opinions on what they might mean or which theory you support, and be able to argue for your position – but respect your interviewer and don’t pretend to know it all. Particularly, don’t use jargon unless you’d be happy to explain exactly what it means.
Salary and perks
An average starting salary for a graduate would be in the region of £45,000, though it might be as low as £30,000. You’re also likely to have a performance-based bonus scheme.
Larger companies offer flexible benefit schemes you can tailor to your particular needs – health insurance, gym membership, childcare vouchers and much more. For boutique firms you can expect many of the same benefits but you’ll be less able to tailor them.
Applying for an internship role
The application process for internships depends on whether you go for a boutique or larger firm.
Larger firms usually have well-structured online application processes. You supply a CV and cover letter, and complete traditional application questions focusing on skills and competencies, an aptitude test, and a phone or face-to-face interview.
Smaller firms often have quirkier application processes. For example, one boutique investment firm asked for a 200 word answer to the question “How would you invest £1,000,000?”. Successful candidates were invited to interview.
See the latest Asset and Investment Management internships.
Applying for a graduate role
Application processes for graduate roles follow a similar pattern to that of internships. Candidates who have interned at the firm may have their application fast-tracked or may even be directly offered a job at the end of their internship.
What to do afterwards
As a new graduate with a large firm, you’ll usually spend around three years as an analyst before gaining more responsibility. You could progress in your role as an analyst or become an investment manager. This can be a career for life – but if you ever feel like a change, these are just a few of the areas you could move into:
- Investor relations – while it’s not exactly moving out of the industry, you can have a very different focus working to improve client relationships for your firm
- Private equity – hunt out and finance start-ups that could make your clients a fortune
- Financial advice – if you develop an understanding of tax to match your understanding of assets, you’ll be all set to become a self-employed financial advisor
- Consultancy – as an investment manager you’ll have gained an insight into what makes firms succeed and fail. You can pass on that knowledge to help struggling companies
- Playing the market – use the expertise (and wealth) you’ve gained as an investment manager to invest and manage a portfolio of your own
Inspired to pursue a career in investment management? Browse graduate jobs in this sought-after sector and kick-start your journey.