The sharp end – becoming an MD in an investment bank

Simon RoderickResearch, insights & industry news

investment banking - Managing Director

The sharp end – becoming an MD in an investment bank

Becoming an MD in an investment bank for many is the pinnacle. It’s the culmination of a dream, it represents recognition from your peers, admiration for some, and of course it can be a route to riches. Getting there, though, is far from easy.
investment banking - Managing Director

There are many things in life that knock even the most talented individual off track to making it to the top of any professional – in any industry. It takes stamina for one. There are few CEO’s or MD’s who haven’t worked insane hours at some point in their career. This of course can take its toll both mentally and physically, it can also have a terrible effect on personal relationships. I met a successful US lawyer once, who told me that when he could stop work early (at 8 p.m.) he didn’t know what to do with himself. Fortunately, he managed to have a happy personal life too, but generally speaking I can’t imagine it’s easy to ask friends to meet you at 9:30 p.m. for dinner, when they maybe finished work at 5 p.m.

Of course, not everyone wants to work these hours. I often wonder how many great sportspeople didn’t make it big, because they hated the training, and I can’t imagine it’s different in business. In some firms making it to the top can mean surviving redundancy rounds, restructures, and internal battles. If your goal is to make it to the top, it’s not often as easy as it sounds and to cap it all off, in a room full of super smart people, that MBA may not make you stand out.

Work rate

You aren’t going to get anywhere in investment banking unless you’re willing to put in the hours. They can be long, often erratic, and opting out isn’t the best way to promotion. You need to have a high threshold for work and for being accurate.

Rain-maker abilities

Investment banking MD’s need to find revenues. They need a great network, and this includes companies, private equity firms, and advisers. They also need strong commercial acumen, the ability to network, and you need great presentation skills. You must also be willing to travel (pandemics aside).

Delegation skills

Your ability to recruit, lead, motivate, and energise a team is important.

They are interesting

YSenior bankers need to be engaging. They need to be able to make concise and interesting pitches, they need to be memorable. Invest in yourself constantly, continually look to improve how your work, present, and communicate both internally and externally.

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Good corporate citizen

The post-financial crisis world of investment banking, or indeed wider financial services, is a different place than the Hollywood movie interpretation of the high-powered investment banker. All bankers are employees, and the modern banker is a modern thinker who lives, and walks the walk, when it comes to the firm’s values.

Investment banking can be very lucrative and for that reason, the competition is fierce. There isn’t a guaranteed formula for getting to the top, but if that’s your goal, then give it everything and you can look back and say you tried.

About Fram Search

Established in 2010 by Simon Roderick, a recruiter with 20 years City recruitment experience, Fram Search is a specialist financial services recruitment consultancy. We focus on permanent and interim recruitment in the UK & internationally.

Our specialist investment banking practice supports the dynamic investment banking industry, which advises their clients on raising equity or debt, M&A, restructuring, and leveraged finance.

We provide high quality contingent and retained recruitment services to boutiques and global brands. We have long established relationships and access to deep talent pools. Fram takes a highly consultative approach, and we have a quality over quantity ethos. We are proud that our contingent fill rate is nearly three the industry average and we augment our retained search methodology with rigorous psychometric testing. Champions of diversity & inclusion, all staff have undertaken unconscious bias training.

Please contact us on 01525 864 372 / [email protected] to learn more.

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