Investment banking has developed a reputation over recent years – so is it still worth getting a career as an investment banker?

Should I Start an Investment Banking Career or Look Elsewhere? 

From crazy stories like the Wolf of Wall Street to our collective lived experience of the credit crunch, investment banking has taken a reputational hit over the last few decades.

It used to be a career for the ambitious, the smart, the money-focused. But is it still like that today – or is a career in investment banking less desirable than before?

1. Investment banking jobs will always suit certain people 

Let’s get one thing straight: there is truth in the stereotype that investment banking requires a certain type of personality. If you’re one of these people, a career in equity analysis or stockbroking or wealth management could be satisfying, lucrative, and worthy of building you a great professional reputation.

You need to be incredibly driven, willing to work all sorts of hours, and have the skill of personal charm. It’s your job to analyse data sets and understand what’s going to happen in the future – and develop strategies to avoid disaster.
If you want the high lifestyle where huge risk brings great rewards, investment banking could be the ideal career for you.

2. Cleaning up the investment banking image 

If you don’t want the high-stress stereotype of investment banking… it could still be the career for you.

It’s not a dying profession: it’s a changing one.

As the Financial Conduct Authority – and international counterparts – recognise the damage caused by the 2008 crash (and investment banking practices that caused it), the face of financial services has changed dramatically.

With current geopolitics at the fore of every news outlet’s reporting, banking and financial services will only be set to change further in the near future, too.
Regulation is stringent, banks are more aware of work/life balance, and more consumer protection is in place than ever before.

The investment banking world is revising its image – and you could be a part of the change.

3. Are shorter working hours on the horizon, too? 

One notable revision to keep an eye on in the trading world is the consultation about shortening the European operating hours.

While international counterparts US and Asia operate no more than 6 hours per day, the LSE is open 8.5 hours. When you’re working on trades and investments, that means you’ve got to be working from before it opens until well after it closes. A shorter open will not only positively “impact the liquidity of European markets” but also contribute to the changing attitudes to an improved work/life balance.

4. Market uncertainty could affect career opportunities 

Right now, the international political climate reveals a lot of instability in financial services the world over. Fewer mergers and acquisitions took place over 2018 and 2019 than in the years prior: this is a sign of prudence and reticence of businesses to make any big moves while politics remain unstable.
If you’re just starting out in your investment banking career, it’s worth acknowledging that your entry to the profession could be more difficult than in previous years. There will always be investment banking jobs – but vacancies may be lower in the next few years, while the risk of job losses runs higher than usual.

5. Need more advice about your financial services career? 

It’s true: investment banking is a hard job. It pays incredibly well, but you may have to sacrifice some things to reap the rewards. If you’re determined and the short-term instability of job opportunities and security doesn’t phase you, go for it!

If you’re unsure, there are lots of alternative jobs in the financial services sector that might suit you better. Check out our resources pages and then hop onto our community to pick the brains of like-minded finance graduates!