Financial Edge Training

How can women break into investment banking?

If you’re a female student considering an investment banking, retail banking, or investment management career, it’s worthwhile to take advantage of insight events. They’re designed to help you network with women who already work in these fields and find out more about career opportunities and get a sense of what a role in banking looks like. One female director at a large institution stressed that it’s important to attend careers fairs like Women in Investment Banking, participate in campus events, and join finance-related student and professional organizations. Not only will this increase your understanding of the industry and the opportunities available, but it will also help you make vital connections with people who can help you get a job.

How can you stand out?

Here are seven tips to help you not only survive the investment banking interview but stand out during the process: 

  • Show That You’ll Be Easy to Work With
  • Know Your Stuff
  • Be Respectful 
  • Bring Your Elevator Pitch 
  • Show You Are Eager to Learn 
  • Lay the Groundwork 
  • Know Your Financial Statements

All the women we spoke with agreed – and their successful banking careers testify – that you don’t have to be masculine to succeed as an investment banker. Confidence is a vital component of success for woman (and men). One board member noted: “You do need to be confident and assertive.”

Which techniques are effective in a highly competitive environment?

All candidates, female and male alike, need to demonstrate strong knowledge of financial markets and economic trends. Understand debt and equity, the time value of money, project finance, and leveraged finance. You must be able to read and understand financial statements such as the balance sheet, income statement, cash flow and shareholder equity statements. Also essential are strong communication, networking, presentation and interpersonal skills, the ability to work in a fast-paced environment, sophisticated analytical and research capabilities, and excellent time management skills. Knowledge of financial and securities regulations is also beneficial.

Young women starting in IB

If you view the industry as a ‘boys club,’ you’re putting yourself at a disadvantage. Investment banking is built on networks and relationships. If you see yourself as an outsider trying to ‘break in’, that’s likely how you will be perceived. Make sure you’re exceptionally well prepared and technically adept, and network to build relationships with professionals in the industry. Be sure to reach out to senior women in the industry and take advantage of networking opportunities geared toward women as well as networking events open to all.

Using the female perspective

A new study from the IMF found that greater inclusion of women in all aspects of the financial services industry, including as regulators, would have benefits far beyond simply addressing gender inequality. Narrowing the gender gap would foster greater stability in the banking system and enhance economic growth. It could also contribute to more effective monetary and fiscal policy. Female financial services executives have successfully navigated many challenges and are passionate about the advancement of women in the field. Their perspectives provide insight into how entry level women can move up the ladder. The women we spoke with consistently highlighted three fundamental building blocks of success for women in financial services: finding sponsorship, taking risks, and knowing and communicating your own value.

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In conclusion, don’t be put off by investment banking programs targeted at women – make the most of them. Many banks are setting explicit targets to increase the number of women in investment banking. Barclays, for example, runs events and schemes to engage female university students, and initiatives to help female employees access internal opportunities. It’s not relevant whether you are a man or a woman in investment banking. You are one of the team from the beginning. Men and women face the same challenge — success ultimately comes down to your ability to generate business and make money for the bank. As you look to break into the industry, remember the importance of showcasing skills and characteristics that suggest you will be able to just that as you progress in your career.

This blog article was written by Ivy Wong and is in collaboration with Financial Edge Training.