How to get into Investment Banking with a non-financial degree

It’s a common myth that investment banks are looking for economics and business students, along with the occasional mathematician. In fact investment banks are very keen to snap up non-finance students. Read on to learn why and what steps you can take to be an attractive candidate.

Getting into Investment Banking with a non-financial degree - it’s easier than you think!

An economist, a linguist and a politics graduate are trying to negotiate an international deal…

No, it’s not the start of a joke. Imagine the situation and how each person would approach the task. The economist could explain the financial theory to the others. The linguist could take account of cultural differences. The politics student could predict how political relationships would affect a deal. Put all three on a team together and you get a much better informed solution than any one of them could offer alone.

Investment banks depend on diversity for their success. Humanities students are in great demand for their broad outlook and their communication skills.

What skills are Investment Banks really looking for?

  • Intelligence – you’re bright, resourceful and on-the-ball
  • Passion – you have a real enthusiasm for business and finance and a drive to succeed
  • Global outlook – you look at finance within the larger picture of international politics, relationships and history
  • Resilience – you can deal with a fast-paced working environments and the heavy demands that will be placed on you
  • Innovation – you look at a problem from every angle and aren’t afraid to try new and unexpected solutions
  • Communication – you can successfully communicate facts and ideas to clients and your team

Your steps to getting into Investment Banking

The key to a banking career is getting a foot in the door. Your main goal is to land yourself an internship. You’ll get industry experience and the chance to prove yourself to people who could be your interviewers for a permanent job. 

Internships are very competitive. To increase your chances, start early. Meet people, make contacts and use all the resources you have. Luckily there are plenty of opportunities to get noticed.

  • Careers fairs. From the very start, look out for investment banks at your school and university careers fairs. The people on the stands were once just like you and are a great source of information. If they’re willing, get their contact details for follow-up questions
  • Spring programmes. Apply at the start of your first year and spend a few days over the Easter break learning about the different roles within an investment bank. They’re a great stepping stone to a summer internship. You’ll be competing for a place with the top students around the country, so really focus on your application
  • Insight days. Some companies offer short visits that are often available to all year groups. If you missed out on a spring programme they’re the second best option
  • Mentoring and development opportunities. Look out for any other programme the company offers. You may find a mentoring scheme for women or a course focusing on leadership. If you get a place - make friends, make contacts and learn all you can about the company
  • Summer internships. The holy grail – spend the summer prior to your penultimate year interning at the bank in your preferred specialism. At the end of the placement there’s often a chance to interview for a permanent role

Proving your interest

The one hurdle for non-finance students is proving they have a real interest in finance. It’s not just a matter of saying “I read the Financial Times.” Anyone can pick up a newspaper. It’s about going above and beyond to solidify that interest.

  • Make it part of your life. From the topics you propose for the debating society to the subject you choose for your dissertation, focus on the industry wherever you can
  • Have opinions. It’s easy to reel off the facts about a piece of finance news – but what do you take away from them? How have you researched the issue? Who have you spoken to?
  • Be honest. Investment banking is a hard job with long hours. To thrive, you have to be really passionate about your own and your company’s success 

Now you know what it takes, check out opportunities in investment banking and kickstart a brilliant career.