Investment banks help public and private organisations to raise funds in the capital markets (the market for long-term funding, eg bonds and equity). They also provide strategic advice for mergers, acquisitions and other complex financial transactions. Many investment banks have fixed income and equities divisions.
What will I do?
Your role and job title will vary according to which section of the investment bank you choose to work in – in the front, middle or back office. A typical front-office entry position is that of analyst, in which you will complete the financial, company and market analysis on which investment decisions are made. As each bank has its own terminology and structure, investigate the opportunities available at the banks you are interested in before you apply.
Investment banks usually offer a number of different graduate training schemes, specific to their particular divisions. You will work in a team that generally includes between five and ten people. Working hours between offices vary – traders, in particular, tend to work an earlier day. Graduate schemes ran by international banks usually include a rotation or training sessions at an office abroad.
Areas of the investment bank
There are usually three areas within an investment bank – the front, middle and back – although not all banks will use these terms.
The front office
This is the area of the bank that traditionally provides banking and strategic advisory services for clients. Research also takes place in the front office to produce financial product reports.
The middle office
This is the office involved with risk management and analysis of the possible pitfalls that traders may face when conducting their daily trades.
The back office
This area is also known as operations and involves data-checking the trades that have been undertaken and making sure that they are correct. The back office is also home to the IT (technology) divisions.
In many other areas of finance you may hear the terms front office, usually referring to the revenue-producing functions, and the back office referring to the services that support it.
Graduates don’t necessarily need a finance-related degree but do usually require a 2.1 or higher for front- and middle-office roles. Although you should be numerate, specific skills can be learned once you are in the workplace. Employers look especially for evidence of your interpersonal and analytical skills and a confident manner. Many banks use formal internships as part of their recruitment process, so it is worth gaining a place on one of these during your penultimate year.
The Irish market
A large number of investment banks are based in London and the Irish market is quite small by comparison. However, there are opportunities available with global players based in Ireland and Northern Ireland.