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The Fast-Paced World Of Investment Banking

By Experience

Investment bankers play many roles in the business world, but the bottom line for clients is they make them money.

For graduates looking for a crash course in the intricacies of markets and corporate transactions, signing on with an investment banking firm will put you ringside in an arena where millions of dollars and occasionally billions of dollars change hands through the placement of stocks and the sale of companies.

Investment banks don't offer saving and checking accounts. They don't do car loans. Forget mortgages. Instead, they work with corporations and individuals, helping them raise money, analyze investments, and look for opportunities and cement deals.

Largely working behind the scenes to accomplish their transactions, investment banks comprise a multi-billion dollar industry with the singular objective of creating profits for all parties involved.

This includes the bankers. And as a result, the competition can be tough for those hoping to enter the field. Once on board, expect to work long hours for demanding bosses who have little tolerance for missed deadlines. But in addition to hefty paychecks, most investment bankers can boast deep knowledge of a range of industries, familiarity with the most complex financial transactions and the satisfaction of knowing they have helped companies and investors reach their goals.

The U.S. Department of Labor cautions that the size of the investment banking industry can fluctuate with changes in the market. Indeed, in the most recent market downturn, consolidation in the industry saw several investment banks downsize or close outright, while others retrenched to the major financial centers such as New York and San Francisco. Some were blended into larger financial institutions, or in other cases, those displaced by contractions in the market went off to start smaller "boutique" firms that tend to focus on certain industry sectors.

Such trends can only increase the competition for entry-level employees. The track for most candidates is through the doors of the business school, with MBAs filling most first-year investment banking jobs. Those with a bachelor's degree may find their way into a research analyst position, but there is an expectation that any significant advancements will hinge on returning to the classroom within the next two to three years.

To get a foot in the door, plan to be persistent.

"I sent out 200 resumes to all the firms and equity analysts I could get my hands on," a research analyst at Ferman Selz told "At 9 a.m. each morning I would begin calling every person on my list- it's the only way to get their attention. The only way to get in the door is to be sort of a pain in the neck."

"The harder you work to get the job, the harder you'll work once you have the job," he added.

Investment banking is literally all about money: Your job is to use financial vehicles and transactions to earn top dollars for your company and your clients.

Investment banking is not for the faint of heart, and those looking for a predictable work week would be advised to search elsewhere. This field is incredibly fast-paced, but the unrelenting pressure, hours, extensive travel and exceedingly tough expectations earn you a sky-high salary, not to mention the adrenaline rush of playing a high-stakes, high profile game.

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