Areas of work, specialisms and alternatives

Investment Banking

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.

money plant

What will I do?

Your role and job title will vary according to which section of the investment bank you choose to work in, whether the front, middle or back office (see the box below). 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 run by international banks usually include a rotation or training sessions at an office abroad.


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 with global players based in Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Areas of investment

There are usually three areas within an investment bank – the front, middle and back, although not all banks will use these terms.

The front : 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 : the office involved with risk management and analysis of the possible pitfalls that traders may face when conducting their daily trades.

The back : 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 (information technology) divisions. In many other areas of finance you may hear the terms front office, usually referring to the revenue-producing functions, and back office, referring to the services that support it.

gradireland editorial advice

This describes editorially independent and impartial content, which has been written and edited by the gradireland content team. Any external contributors featuring in the article are in line with our non-advertorial policy, by which we mean that we do not promote one organisation over another.

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