Investment Banking Graduate Schemes

In finance, everything hinges on seeing where risk translates to reward. As a graduate, you may have a knack for maths, economics or empirical assessment, and are curious about helping banks make the decisions they rely on.

Your financial skills can therefore help a company, agency or public organisation choose where to hedge their bets, securing the cash they need for change and expansion. We’re talking, of course, about becoming an investment banker, and enrolling in a prestigious grad scheme to prepare you for it.

But if you’re unsure what investment banking graduate schemes involve, we’re here to peel the mystique away… Read on for a layman’s guide to the role that may await:

What does a typical investment banking grad scheme look like?

For starters, you’ll be working for a financial institution, likely one of the top banking firms in the world. Everyone starts as an Analyst, and trains under that programme for three years.

You’ll be shuffled around various departments – asset management, mergers, bonds, public investment etc. – to find your niche. If you make it through the other side, having passed the inter-organisational exams, there’ll be some measure of freedom regarding what you specialise in. Have a look at our careers page to see what that might be.

Discover what a grad scheme demands >>

Expected salary

Brace yourself, because the entry-level pay for investment bankers is sky high. The lowest it’ll hit will be £42,000 per annum, rising to £59,000 for the most sought-after positions (in London too, no doubt). At the time of writing, we’re pinning a mean figure of just over £49K to aim for.

Career progression

As we’ve mentioned, Analyst is the role you’ll launch from, and there’s a maximum three-year training period. This will involve helping the department you’re assigned to in their day-to-day operations, learning as you go.

Afterwards you’ll be promoted to an Associate, supervising Analysts and (on occasion) heading into meetings with the firm’s clientele, if you’re in a front-end position. Eventually, you can expect to progress to a senior role, such as Director.

Further opportunities run all the way up to Executive Director, and even, as an MD, direct control of a single area of the bank’s interests such as hedge funds or private equity, or a geographical division of the company.

See a typical list of graduate job paths >>

Top firms

Investment banking is dominated by some very big fish. These are international financial powerhouses – a few staple names include Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, Deutsch Bank and Morgan Stanley. Tens of thousands of bankers work for these businesses; they have regional HQs around the world, which may provide the scope for travel.

Don’t miss the top employers’ application deadlines >>

Departments you can dip into

A huge range of departments rest at your feet. You could, for instance, find that you’re enlivened by striking merger and acquisition deals, or helping a client raise the necessary funds for a new side of their business. Natural risk-takers might be drawn to a hedge fund management role, whereby you’ll advise on how to extract a return from big, interweaving market assets. The choice is quite astounding…

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What an ideal candidate looks like

Interested in investment banking, but not got a degree in maths, economics, business or finance? No problem. Humanities students can bring their contextual skills to bear on an investment report, and they’re in high demand.

Far more pertinent is a willingness to learn. Analyst training will, as we’ve mentioned, land you in several departments, testing your aptitude for each branch of the bank. You’ll have to be reliable, and eager to understand the organisation from the inside-out.

The hours will be long; this mustn’t be an issue for you. Employers will often ask you to arrive early when stock/market information is shared, and leave in the middle of the evening. A strong work ethic will set you in good stead with superiors. Of course, a degree or relevant experience in maths or economics is a bonus too!

How to make your CV rise above the rest >>

Next steps

Want to invest in your future? Browse our guides on the left-hand side of this page, to brush up on the possibilities that an investment banking graduate scheme can offer.

Don’t forget to check back with our latest grad scheme posts either!