Degrees for Investment Banking

Very often people ask me this question: What degrees for investment banking are needed? There is no investment banking major at any college. So let’s look at some real figures to give you some references.

CFA: 80 per cent of my candidates have this professional qualification.

MSc / MBA: 80 per cent of my candidates have one of these qualifications.

At entry level, investment banks may not set these as pre-requisites. But you would need them if you want to further develop your career in investment banking.

To start an investment banking career, personality fit rates higher than technical skills. Skills can be trained, personality is not likely. However at the end of the day, you are advising others on how to get the most from their finances, and how to make their money work for them, so understanding the basics of finance is crucial to being able to adequately advise your clients and, thus, be successful at your job.

Although there isn’t any particular degrees for investment banking, banks generally give preferences to those studying finance related subjects.

More numbers for your reference. Benchmarking website analyzed 706 investment banking directors by salary suggested that finance and business students are hired in far greater numbers than anyone studying softer subjects. 34% of the sample it analyzed majored in accounting, business or finance, 24% studied economics. After that, percentage figures get a little negligible.

11% of IB directors have maths and statistics degrees and 10% are engineering graduates. The fifth and sixth most common degrees are chemistry and computer science, but they account for just 4% and 3% of the total respectively.

What if I don’t have any of the above degrees? And what if I don’t come from an Oxbridge University? And what if…

Well, investment banking is a people business, skills can be trained, and personality cannot. If you have the right personality fit, chances are still there. In fact, investment bankers receive a great deal of their training through their employers.

There are even real cases like these.

Peter Redhead, Global Head of Research at Macquarie Group (former head of Asia Equities at JP Morgan), studied Geography at Durham.

Peter Sullivan, the former CEO of Standard Chartered Bank, studied Physical Education at New South Wales University.

The present Japan country head of a US Hedge Fund, studied law at university and has only one bachelor’s degree.

A basic university degree is your key to investment banking. Additional factors determining your success will include opportunities, your skills on networking, your capabilities on multi-tasking and problem solving. However to increase your competitiveness, CFA is highly desired.

How can I learn more about becoming an investment banker?
You can learn more about the requirements and training process to become an investment banker by visiting the websites of large investment banks like Goldman-Sachs and J.P. Morgan. These companies detail the various programs they offer for undergraduate students, graduate students, recent graduates, and experienced professionals.

If you are currently in college, you may be able to find someone in your school’s alumni network who can talk to you about becoming an investment banker. Learning more through this process can also be a good way to build your professional network.

Want additional guide about networking with bankers? Inside Investment Banking has a training course which will walk you through step by step networking strategies.