Investment Banker Making 500k pa Gives Excellent Advice


I have previously said that investment banking is a very lucrative career option for able students (see post).

What if you are already working, but in the wrong line, and want a mid-career switch into i-bankng? Read on.

Yes, there are some very smart and very capable people who think they got into the wrong industry. They are overworked, underpaid, don’t enjoy what they are doing, and dying to get into a better place (e.g. investment banking) where they’ll at least be paid extremely well for the hard work they put in.

For these people, here’s some very good advice from a reader called James:

“I made $500-600K/year in investment banking. Senior guys make even more than that, more than US$1mil/year during good years… Forget about headhunting firms if you don’t have experience in investment banking. For mid-tier switch, it is easier to get into equity research… I suspect that 2008 will be tough… Nothing is easy, I took almost 1 year before I found my job and having some luck is crucial.”

Read James’ full story and advice in a comment he posted here. Thanks, James!


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  1. i’m a jnr level investment banker. life is tough.. will i want to stay long enough to become a mid level banker (from his all-in comp, he seems like a VP) like James above – pulling in half a million a year? nah. i’m going to private equity or a hedge fund – better compensation, better life.

    having said that ibanking is a fairly safe path to a decent salary – all you got to do is put in the hours and slowly climb the ranks (and of course to survive layoffs – this can be mitigated by being flexible – i.e. relocate to somewhere better for a few years when times are not so good)

    and to those kids who say “my dream is to be an investment banker” i think you should do some research into what it actually is as well. i’ve spoken to many who say they want to be or are “investment bankers” without knowing what it means…

  2. I’m an analyst at a private equity fund. I can tell you the comp ain’t that great — we may get a higher base, but i-bankers definitely pull in more bonus.

  3. peabrain, first time i’ve really heard that sentiment…i presume you are not getting carry/phantom carry? what quartile is your fund in?

  4. hello,
    To a jc student like me who aspires to be an investment banker, haha, what is the ideal university courses/degree to take? Business? Finance? Accounting? Economics? Maths and Stats? and which university if it is in Singapore; or overseas?

  5. hello, what is investment banking? why do you aspire to be one?

    better overseas than local, in the ivys, top state Unis or top UK ones. your gpa should be high – more than 3.5 or someting and you need to show an interst in finance. in terms of courses its varied but it always helps to have some finance thrown in. also, if you can speak/write mandarin & have gone to a top uni with a reasonable GPA, you should get interviews with the BB in HK…

  6. e, no carry yet. IRR hurdle high. wouldn’t say we’re top quartile but previous funds (before I joined) managed pretty decent returns. however, i’ve done my sums and even if we hit carry this year, i will probably see only the lower end of $180-200k, unlike the $200-300k range that you BB guys got last year.

  7. To James and other investment veterans
    hi your comments are really insightful. Btw i am IT specialist in SAP FICO/FI module, however lately i realized that
    my true interests likes in financial investment, and am contemplating in switching to either equity research, private equity,
    assest managemrnt or private banking. i am currently taking CFA1 this dec and has being offered a place for an US MBA (top 25 ranked
    by EIU)My plan is to do both concurrently. Hoever, i am now 32 and has no formal financial job experience. Is it late for me to
    switch now and would any investment firm hire me due to my age? Your advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you

  8. Hi, I am an undergrad doing economics, and I’ve heard about the monetary rewards of an investment banking career. However, the equity research and other analytical positions receive much less attention. Seeing that this post is filled with helpful and kind comments, I venture to ask about something I’ve wanted to know…

    I have little interest in an investment banking job, but I enjoy analytical problems, especially the quantitative side. So, I’m wondering, do the analytical jobs in finance have as much demand as the investment banking (and other operations) jobs? Is the pay decent (compared to normal jobs, like those in the 3k to 10k/mth range, and not investment bankers), and the working hours mildly sane?

    I’ve also heard that the hardcore quantitative and computing stuff are done in hedge funds and the such (for Economics majors). Since that’s where the money (and resources/funding) is, I suppose it might be true. But I’m quite worried that I’m mistaken and choose the wrong career. (Academic route does offer decent theoretical stuff that’s similar.)

    Lastly, when I surf the websites, e.g. Barclay’s, their minimum requirement for a quantitative analyst is a PhD in a technical subject. Is there any way to bypass that requirement, ie get into a lower-level job-scope that is related to quantitative analysis, and then rising up after becoming proficient at it (assuming that one does become proficient)? Or is formal qualification the only way there? (and does it involve superlative grades and achievements, or will some work on projects related to financial/similar models work as a substitute)

    Thanks for the time spent reading this, and any thought and advice given!

  9. I am a 23 years old guy.

    With the qualifications and experience i am having, is investment banking a suitable career for me?
    Should I pursue further into MBA?

    I am currently working as a financial consultant and corporate restructuring adviser.
    Advices are much needed here. Thanks a lot…

    -Vincent Loo, Chartered Accountant with SAP FICO experience and CFA

  10. I am 35 years of age and would like to explore investment opportunities with 500K savings (instead of having it sit in the bank earning very low interest).

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