I get this question all the time from rising college seniors and recent grads on the outside looking in from all over the country, ready to fight and scrape their way into the investment banking department of any firm that will give them an interview. However, actual analysts at these firms (first- and second-years) have also consistently expressed to me their displeasure at their choice to go into banking, with the majority of them detesting the work they do, the hours they endure and the personalities they have to manage. With so many recent grads in banking wanting out of the job they so (originally) desperately wanted, is investment banking still worth it? Despite all of the trolling and all of the negativity, here are four reasons why yes, it’s still worth it.
The training lasts a lifetime (or at least a career)
The financial valuation, quantitative analysis and presentation building skills will remain with you throughout your entire career and they will pay dividends. The attention to detail required to succeed in banking is but a fraction of what you will need in another function or industry. As a result, you will typically over-deliver on projects you subsequently run after your banking foray is behind you. Likely you’ll be regularly recognized as a top-performer if you continue to apply your talents in a new position or industry.
Doors will open that otherwise are shut to everyone without a background in IBD
Associate job in Private Equity? Junior analyst at at hedge fund? Can you get these jobs without a banking background? Yes, but it’s pretty tough to get there (numbers game). A banking background on your resume confers instant credibility to your ability to handle high volumes of quantitatively oriented work in a high-pressure environment; and the assumption recruiters for these firms make is that you will have the intellectual firepower to add value to a large, global fund.
It is still a great way to get into a top-tier business school
Harvard, Wharton, Stanford and Columbia are on your radar for an MBA. You hear in all of their presentations that they are looking for the next great entrepreneur, the free thinker, the creative genius. Right. Maybe they hold three spots for those types of, with the rest of the class coming in from the investment banks (or so it seems that way). The strategic experience and exposure to market-moving decisions IBD analysts get still trump what many other young professionals get out there (save for management consulting), and business schools will continue to love the young financier.
Relatively speaking, the compensation is still outstanding
Investment banking analysts might like to complain that they are getting paid an hourly wage comparable to someone working in retail or fast food (which may be true in a few cases), but honestly the pay for a 22-year-old out of college who gets to live in New York City is still way better than what his peers may have had to settle for in this economy.
Debra Wheatman is a certified writer and career coach who has guided the professional development of thousands of clients globally. She is reachable at firstname.lastname@example.org.