Banking & Finance 06.05.24 (Updated)

A Day In The Life Of An Investment Banker (What’s It Really Like?)

Interested in a graduate banking job?  We shine a spotlight on the day-to-day life of an investment banker… so you can see EXACTLY what it’s like! Investment banking isn’t a profession for the faint-hearted. Particularly if you’ve got your eye on rapid progression (and if you…

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Interested in a graduate banking job?  We shine a spotlight on the day-to-day life of an investment banker… so you can see EXACTLY what it’s like!

Investment banking isn’t a profession for the faint-hearted.

Particularly if you’ve got your eye on rapid progression (and if you haven’t, you should probably say ‘goodbye’ to this type of graduate career immediately!)

There’s no denying that the financial rewards can be stellar.  In your first year out of uni alone, you could expect to make up to ВЈ74,000, according to industry figures.

Fast-forward a decade or so, and you could be dragging home around ВЈ430,000 in salary and bonus.

On the flip side, however, you’ll have to work super, super hard for rewards like these.  

Late nights, weekends, and long hours are the norm… even for new graduates.  And it can be difficult to watch your friends enjoy their free time and social lives, as you rack up never-ending hours at the bank.

As with any graduate career, it’s all about looking carefully at the pros and cons, and deciding which side you fall into.

What Is The Role Of An Investment Banker, Anyway?

Investment banks borrow money, or issue stocks, to help companies and governments raise high levels of finance.  They also advise and act as go-betweens on mergers and acquisitions.  

Example clients are companies planning to go public, those organising mergers and acquisitions, and large, established companies looking to expand further.  

As an investment banker, you are the link between the investors and your clients.  You’ll prepare offers and pitches to attract new clients, and you’ll run financial projections and presentations, as well as meeting with established clients.

Financial markets change in the blink of an eye, and the stakes are permanently high.  So, as you can no doubt imagine, a top investment bank is an extremely fast-paced environment to work in.  

But what exactly will your day-to-day work involve?  Are flashy, dramatic Hollywood movies like The Wolf Of Wall Street an accurate portrayal of life as an investment banker?

In other words, should you be worried?

We wanted to find out.  

So, we’ve spoken to some real investment bankers and painted a picture of an ‘average day in the life’… to help you decide whether or not this kind of high-flying graduate career is right for you.

You could also download our free Debut App for more insights, and to browse investment banking opportunities from some of the UK’s top graduate employers.

6 – 8am: Your Day Begins

“For some of us, it’s all about being in the office first… and definitely before the boss!” says one of our bankers.  “You can earn some big brownie points that way.”

“Though if you were up until the early hours finishing a job the night before, you’ll have earned yourself a lie-in, so arriving after 9am won’t be so much of an issue.”

“When you get to the office does usually depend on what went on the day before, and how much work there is to get through today,” agreed another.

8/9am – Morning: Catching Up

Put all those frenzied, chaotic scenes from The Wolf Of Wall Street to the back of your mind… because your morning will usually consist of quietly getting your head down on that to-do list.

You’ll put the finishing touches on pitches and presentations you’ve already designed, and you’ll start working your way through the texts and emails you were sent overnight.

“If it’s Monday, there could be a morning meeting,” says one of our bankers, “which at my bank, happens once a week.  In this, we discuss market activities, and where things are likely to be headed.  We’ll also summarise the deals we’ve done over the previous week, and check the pipeline for the week ahead.

The biggest tip I can offer here is to always use the morning wisely.  Don’t put things off if they can be done now, because you’ll only get more work throughout the course of the day – and some of it could be drop-everything urgent.”

“Definitely,” agrees another.  “I’ve seen new graduates come in, then sit around just doing nothing, waiting to be told exactly what to do and when.  Those are the ones who won’t last out the year.”

Lunchtime: Try Not To Eat A Sandwich At Your Desk!

You’ll have a LOT of work to do, so it’ll be tempting to grab a sandwich and wolf it down as you plough on.

But our bankers agreed that if you can get outside to enjoy some sunshine and fresh air, you need to take it!  

You’re working ultra-long hours, after all, so you’ll need a proper break.  Try to grab a colleague to come with you – lunch can be a great time to build good working relationships.

Post-Lunch – 3pm: Meetings

“To break out of the junior ranks, you need social skills,” says one banker, “and meetings are the best opportunity to do develop those.

If you can build good rapport with clients, you’ll win their trust, and their business.”

“You can’t really be the kind of person who’s only good at the numbers, and that’s it,” says another.  “If you’re too nervous, or you clam up in front of clients, you can only go so far.”

3pm – 7pm: Now Your Day Really Begins

“In the afternoon, new assignments tend to get given out, and feedback starts coming back on old ones from the higher-ups.  

This is all going to dictate how you’ll spend the rest of the day, into the next.”

7pm – Whenever: Wrapping Up?

“It’s not every day that you’ll pull a late-nighter,” says one banker, “but it has been known for my team to order in some food, and just carry on working past midnight.”

“Sometimes, people will drop new work on your desk just as you’re about to pack up and go home,” says another, “which can be frustrating, but there are those times when you just have to sigh and get on with it.

My biggest tip?  Don’t actively request more work, if you can get away with it!”

“I would highlight the fact that if you’re not happy with something, you have to have the confidence to say so,” says another banker, “then try to find a solution that works for you.  

If you really don’t want to put a vital pitch together at 1am, it’ll be up to you to figure out a better way – or just get on and do it.”

Any Other Investment Banking Tips?

“Try to build in some work-life balance.  

Get some exercise, watch TV shows you enjoy, read a book.  This job can be stressful, but the stress gets harder to handle if you don’t find a way to switch off and relax when you’re able to.”

“I know we’ve made our job sound hectic – and that’s because it really can be!  But it’s also immensely rewarding… nothing beats the high you’ll get from securing a fantastic deal, then watching the compliments roll in.  

And, of course, the money.”

OK, I’m In.  How Do I Find The Right Graduate Role In Investment Banking?

If the fast-paced, high stakes environment hasn’t put you off, and you’re ready to start that graduate career in investment banking, download our free Debut App now.

You can use it to browse opportunities from top graduate employers, with inside knowledge from our own experts.  

(Some firms have even collaborated with us to design bespoke games, which are both fun, educational, and could even win you an internship!)

That’s not all.  

You can also get yourself talent-spotted by top graduate employers, track your applications, and gain valuable career insights from both employers, and graduates just like you.

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