Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Lifestyle of Investment Banker

Investment Banker Lifestyle – You must have probably heard a lot about investment banking and would have a fair idea of what an investment banker does and also wish to be one. But how well do you understand the investment banker lifestyle? Wouldn’t it be great if you have a clear picture about what your life will be as an investment banker so you are well prepared to make that as your career? That’s where this article would guide you.
An Investment banker life is considered to have long working hours, working on weekends, lot of hard work and little sleep. Let’s have a closer look at it. This write up on investment banker life will help you know the following

Why become an Investment bankers?

I would not be wrong to say that the candidates today are quite mesmerized by the image of an investment banker. The image here I am referring to is the one, where we see even young investment bankers dropping out of quite expensive cars wearing polished suits. Seldom do people realize that such investment bankers put in a lot of hard work, working under stress situations and round the clock for months.

Earn lot of money

There is no doubt about this particular reason being the biggest motivating factor for people to get into investment banking.
The salaries and bonuses one could earn are extremely luring which would get you in his career and motivates you to stay in. The fat salary and the bonuses which could go up to three to five time the salary makes up for all the hard work you put in.
There are a few career options which give opportunities to earn money as investment banking does. Having said so if we have to compare it with entrepreneurship it could be on similar lines. But again the risks involved are greater than working as an investment banker. Hence, investment banking can be a safe bet when it comes to compensation. Especially considering the amount of bonus an investment banker gets for the slogging is quite worth it.

The lifestyle

Many a times it is the lifestyle this job affords that some get attracted towards. With high salaries, you could very well have enough money to visit luxury hotels in exotic islands, gobble on some fine food and wine. Several people enjoy being able to live a rich person’s routine life such as attending art exhibitions, hang out and spend time with the fat cats.

Status symbol

Being an Investment Banker, you are attached with a tag of being a financial wizard and a symbol of financial success. This tag brings in a lot of prestige and gathers a lot of attention when anything in finance is discussed. Your opinion on investments, loans, and mortgages will become important to all your near and dear ones.

Passion for finance

There are some people who are motivated to get into the field of finance from a young age. They have a sharp sense of finance, who have analytical mind from the start and are the ones that can digest information quickly. Such usually get into investment banking as soon as they complete their financial degrees in the university.

Higher Expectations

What I am referring here is a kind of background and surrounding they come from which urge people to get into investment banking. Most of their family members and friends belong to hedge funds, investment banking and hence are motivated to follow suit.

Career foundation skills

Getting into investment banking gives you loads of opportunities hone your PowerPoint presentation, communication and Excel skills. There are other skills that you learn would teach you how to work and survive in this difficult and challenging industry. Also, you get to add quite a few impressive points in the resume. Many people become investment bankers to get the most out of this profession, learn as much as possible and leave before it’s too late. An exit from investment banking may open up new doors for you in finance careers such as private equity, venture capital, and hedge funds.

Intelligent People

Another attraction for people to get into investment banking is that you get to work with some intelligent minds who have sharp brains and are driven individuals to prove their financial abilities.
Learning is intense and you get to work with some of the brightest and most demanding people on Wall Street. You would be exposed to top business leaders and know how they think, how they create strategies and the thought processes behind their decisions.

Investment Banker Lifestyle

Truly speaking there is no “typical day” for an investment banker as your tasks will vary every day. You can be expected to prepare financial models (project how much will the company grow in the next 85 years), preparing pitch books (why you should sell your company to ABC Corp. at $20/share), working on deal memorandum and everything else that goes into a deal.
Have a look at the below infographics on Investment Banker Lifestyle
Investment Banker Lifestyle

Myths and Facts of investment banking

Myth #1: Investment Banking is a very dazzling industry, and my work will be full of handing demanding transactions and deals.
Truth: Don’t expect this to be the true especially at the analyst or associate level. The tasks would be the ones that come down from the senior managers and would be basic grunt work. Although, it does pay back when you handle much more meaningful position in the company, higher up the ladder.
Myth #2: The job gets better with time and position. 
Analysts spend quite a lot of time in getting control of the life in investment banking w.r.t the long hours and random work assigned by the seniors. With this, they gain experience and as time goes they are assisted by various other interns and fresh recruits who share the work responsibility.
Truth: It is not simple as it may seem. You need to spend some time to figure out who would be the best to assign a specific work. Also, you would be responsible for the work they perform and involves risk.
Myth #3: Investment Banking is not as hectic as people fuss about.
Truth: Strength of mind and character and competition are vital elements to Investment banking. And competition exists because there are losers and people in investment banking are resolute to make you one. The politics and competitive scenario is not everyone’s cup of tea and you need to very well survive, pour in your sweat and tears if you want to earn that heavy salary.
Myth #4: Advanced Mathematics skill is a must
Truth: Majority of the stuff you do in investment banking is going to be simple in terms of the mathematical skills you use. Being an analyst or even as an associate you would be spending most of the time in administrative kind of work.  Even in case you fall into some technical group you would spending time on qualitative tasks rather than number crunching.
Myth #5: Investment banking is only for males
Truth: this cannot be regarded as a complete myth  as Investment banking has been male dominated.  The ratio is such that on an average there is around 1 in a 4 female investment banker and accepting the fact that this is substantial enough the gender discrepancy is decreasing day by day. It gives us enough positive sign that things are going to change for the better.

The Downsides of an investment banker’s life

Long working hours

  • If you are someone who wants to work in regular office hours and have a social life a career in investment banking is not for you. Want to know why?
  • At bulge bracket banks, you would find the analysts working for more than 100 hours a week. The day would start might be at 10.00 am or even earlier and end at 2.00am and weekends could not be an exception.
  • When working on the big deals and during the beginning stages of it, it is not at all uncommon for the analysts to be up all night and get through the work.
  • It could be comparatively better at the Associates level, where the average number of working hours could range from say 80-90 hours per week, from 9.00 am to 11.00 pm and working either of the day on weekends.
  • When it goes higher up the chain at a Vice President level the hours would improve. VP’s, if at they have to work on weekends or late nights, can do it from home.
  • Managing Directors have a significantly better work schedule when they do not travel they could report at 7.00 am and leave by 6.00 pm. However, MD’s have a lot of traveling to do perhaps 3 out of every 5 days on average, where they need to do a lot of marketing and pitching.
  • It is also possible that sometimes Analysts and Associates could go out for pitching and sometimes would be spent in office. Having said this lifestyle and the working hours vary across bulge bracket banks and could be better.
  • Many experienced in this industry would say that more than the number of working hours, it is because of the unpredictability of the working hours which makes it erratic. You do not have any control over your social life and will have to sacrifice lot of your personal time.

Unpredictable nature of work

  • The work is not constant and would vary and would be expected to work on the pitch books, prepare financial models, putting across the deal memorandum etc.
  • In the morning, you would find for yourself a fresh stock of work required to be done on the marketing pitch book or live deal work.
  • The higher ups get to office early and check on the last night’s work that you left. But you would receive the comments and review on the work much later on the evening which you would have to finalize before you leave for the day and your VP gets into the office in morning.
  • The work gets hectic only after lunch as you get the list of works to be done through the day. Time would be majorly spent on going through the pitch books, creating deal models, working on numerous transaction alternatives.
  • Through this, the work majorly is done on spreadsheet software like the Excel and presenting your models effectively in a power point presentation.


  • As a result of the above two downsides we discussed comes STRESS. Also, investment bankers deal with huge amount of money and there are a lot of expectations from them to convert deals into profit.
  • These conditions lead to pressure to perform and many a times it is observed bankers get wound up with insomnia, eating disorders, alcoholism, and other health issues.
  • There is always urgency to the task assigned to you, it’s not a day or two limited urgencies but more of a day-by-day urgency.
  • You could also receive phone calls in the middle of good night sleep in case you are handling certain foreign accounts.

No leniency for errors

As an investment banking analyst, you would be expected to learn your job quickly and perform to a very high standard. You would have to ensure the responsibilities are completed on time paying close attention to detail as there would be no room for mistakes.

Work pressure

As we already saw that as investment bankers you would be working with many strong and bright minded personalities. But with this upside comes lot of pressure to perform as you would be compared to your colleagues and will have to outperform them if you need to go up the ladder. You will find that you could make very few friends as this industry itself is deeply competitive and people are hungry for profits and higher bonuses for themselves.

Performing not so important tasks

Although it is true that analysts can be given lot of responsibilities early on in their careers they will every so often be expected to work on tasks which are not that desirable such as copy pasting, photocopying, book meeting rooms etc.

When to quit investment banking?

You may be wondering why we are discussing this topic here in Investment banker life. But believe me once you are into investment banking this question is going to pose in front of you some or the other day and for some every day.
Investment bankers do consider leaving their jobs for various reasons which you could have already learnt from the above discussions in the article. Although there is nothing wrong in quitting what matters is quitting graciously at the right time for the right reason.
So when should you quit Investment banking? It would be very wrong to decide when would be the correct time to call it a quit. It is an individualistic decision which should be taken after considering a few important points;

Quit because you are having bad day at work?

No, never quit because of this reason. You will have plenty of those in investment banking. It is very normal to have a bad day when your decisions fail or you somehow do not deliver up to the expectations. It is better to learn from such situations give it some time and see if there is an improvement. If it doesn’t then go for it!

Do you see yourself as an investment banker for the rest of your life?

Let’s consider a situation that you have spent approximately 2 years in this profession. Observing the Managing Directors at your firm (who make millions, delegate the work and leave the office at 6pm) and think that you want to be that person then this is one indication that perhaps you would want to continue as a banker.

Have you spent enough time to exit investment banking?

You need to make yourself marketable enough before you decide to quit investment banking. It is hence always recommended that you must finish at least two years before you quit. It is better to gain anywhere between 2 and 5 years’ experience as anything less than 2 would be tagged ‘lack of experience’ and more than 5 as ‘too experienced’.

Does quitting mean you are failing?

You might feel as a banker that you have urge to quit because you are unable to handle the job well.  And you continue working hard day in day out but never satisfied. Don’t think that you have failed when you decide to quit. You have learnt a great deal in the times you have survived and it is more like working out what you want to do with your life rather than continuing something which you don’t believe in.

Money is no longer a motivation

We know that you would be paid really well as an investment banker. But there could be a point where you realize that money no longer motivates you to stay as an investment banker especially if you are not enjoying the kind of work you are doing. You could consider a quit if you think you can earn something less but take up a job which is not as demanding as investment banking.
It is always better to think what is important to you and what you wish to do ahead that will decide your decision to move on with something else but investment banking. Ensure you have planned what next? Once you have decided to call it quits.


We can say that investment banking is an industry which can provides loads of opportunities to learn, but you will have to find ways to survive with all that we have discussed. You would surely earn enough but discovering time to spend it is the hard part. The life as an investment banker is going to be hectic but those who wish to live through dedication, competition, risks and perform well then investment banking is the right choice for them.
Hope this article provided you with necessary insights of an Investment Banker’s life.

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