Skills Required to be an Investment Banker
A successful senior-level investment banker possesses a unique blend of skills. They are technically capable and good at leadership, management, sales and building relationships within their target industry. Great bankers are also effective communicators, succinct in their writing and articulate in their speech. The best bankers are also diplomatic and personable. It’s an unusually wide range of skills to master.
Junior-Level (Associates & Analysts)
Junior investment bankers come up through the ranks with a strong emphasis on the technical side of banking – financial modeling, accounting, industry studies, technical writing and pitchbook creation. Primary responsibilities include everything in support of the more senior bankers.
Mid-Career (Vice Presidents)
The mid-career investment banker must transition from a technician to a manager. This requires the banker to develop skills to supervise an internal deal team, to manage (sometimes eclectic and demanding) clients and to artfully navigate a complex deal process. Vice Presidents must also multitask, navigating between several concurrent live deals while also continuing to pitch potential clients.
Senior-Level (Managing Directors)
Senior-level investment bankers are expected to generate revenue for the firm by originating and closing deals. This requires managing directors to layer salesmanship on top of their technical and managerial skills. Sales inevitably requires excellent interpersonal skills, a skill set often lost in a banker’s early career from extremely long hours at the office as a junior banker.
Managing directors are expected to demonstrate industry expertise, maintain industry relationships and manage the inherent conflict of interest between wanting a deal to close (to get paid) and recognizing what is best for the client. They must also be excellent negotiators and creative problem solvers to overcome hurdles during the deal process.
In addition to working on deals, partners at an investment bank must also manage the internal workings of the bank itself. This includes strategic planning, managing staff, making IT and HR decision and all the nuances of running a business common to entrepreneurs in industry.
Consequently, it’s an unusually talented person who can navigate the investment banker career path – from technical/financial expert to management to salesperson to entrepreneur – and hone all the required skills to excel in this industry.