Best Investment Banks to Work For – All You Need to Know

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Exceptional Opportunities: Unveiling the Top Investment Banks for Aspiring Bankers

The enthralling world of Investment Banking has an irresistible pull on young professionals with its promise of a lucrative and prestigious career. It’s an arena that magnetizes those who are ambitious, relentless, and unflinchingly resilient in the face of escalating challenges. It’s a realm where not only do fresh graduates reap the rewards far exceeding their pay grade through commissions, but also climb the ladder to esteemed positions in equity and wealth management sectors, thanks to the formidable experience they gain. It is a potent launchpad for individuals aiming for the zenith of their career at an accelerated pace. But what does this acceleration entail? Let’s delve into the progression of an investment banker’s career:

The breakdown of roles, their typical age range, base salary, total compensation, and timeframe for promotion in Investment Banking:

Position Title Typical Age Range Base Salary (USD) Total Compensation (USD) Timeframe for Promotion
Analyst 22-27 $85-$95K $150-$200K 2-3 years
Associate 25-35 $140-$180K $250-$400K 3-4 years
Vice President (VP) 28-40 $200-$300K $450-$700K 3-4 years
Director / Senior Vice President (SVP) / Principal 32-45 $250-$350K $500-$1,000K 2-3 years
Managing Director (MD) 35-50 $400-$600K $1,000K+ N/A

Source: mergersandinquisitions.com

However, the scope for growth in investment banking extends beyond monetary terms. The riveting, immersive experience within the industry cultivates quick, agile thinking, enabling investment bankers to make considerable strides in the realms of finance and networking. This comprehensive guide endeavors to equip you with an in-depth understanding of the top investment banks for aspiring investment bankers.


Goldman Sachs, one of Wall Street’s most sought-after banks, is renowned for refining the skills of its bankers through demanding, time-intensive work. It’s a place where work engulfs most of your waking hours, but rewards your efforts with hefty compensation.

As the second-largest investment bank globally with an impressive investment banking revenue of $6.8 billion in 2019, it has a firm foothold in major financial hubs worldwide. Goldman Sachs maintains a strong reliance on trading revenue with principal focus areas in fixed income, currency, and commodity trading.

A graduate student at Goldman Sachs typically kick-starts their career as an entry-level analyst. However, for the best performers, there’s a promising opportunity to ascend to an associate role in merely three years. A few more years of dedicated work could propel them to the positions of Executive Director or Managing Director. However, these advancements heavily depend on your exhibited leadership skills and financial acumen, especially in critical areas such as client proposals and interactions with superiors.

A position among the 400 financial partners at Goldman Sachs opens doors to copious networking opportunities in the finance world. While the journey to partnership is the pinnacle in investment banking, Goldman Sachs partners have leveraged these networking opportunities to secure esteemed positions in government, politics, and other financial corporations.


The Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) offers an intensive graduate program for its diverse pool of recruits. The bank has instituted rotational plans to foster employee skills and cultivate a robust work culture.

As the largest bank in Canada with an employee base exceeding 85,000, RBC services 17 million clients worldwide. The cultural diversity of their global team enhances the community experience at RBC, which ranks among the top 10 global investment banks in terms of revenue.

The application process for entry-level roles typically unfolds in the following manner:

  • Online Application: This step includes some fundamental questions and requires submission of the candidate’s CV.
  • Online Testing: The testing round evaluates the core competency required for the role.
  • First Interview Round: The interviews include comprehensive questions to gauge the candidate’s passion and skillset.
  • Final Rounds at Assessment Centre: This phase involves group exercises with shortlisted candidates, two interviews, and an individual presentation.

RBC Capital’s comprehensive graduate program for entry-level candidates spans eight weeks, which includes four weeks in Toronto where the bank is headquartered. This initiative aims to acquaint new employees with the banking industry and integrate non-finance background candidates into the work culture. The program follows a rotational structure, moving candidates through different focus areas every few months.


Morgan Stanley champions the diversity of opinion and believes in fostering their future employees’ interests from their school years. Their inclusive school programs invite students as young as 13 to explore their finance inclinations.

As a global investment bank with branches in over 40 countries and a robust workforce of 60,000 employees, Morgan Stanley sits at the apex of the priority list for investment banking aspirants. With revenue of $6.2 billion in 2019, the firm plays an integral role in Wealth Management and Institutional Securities. Additionally, the bank frequently dabbles in the riskier yet high-growth technology sector, marked by its dealings with industry giants like Google, Groupon, Facebook, etc.

Graduate recruitment at Morgan Stanley is contingent upon holding a degree from a reputed institution accompanied by strong academic credentials. The firm pursues diversity and organizes boot camps for non-finance analysts to assimilate them into the banking structure. Morgan Stanley demonstrates a keen interest in students with an active extracurricular and volunteer record. Furthermore, they run school-level programs to introduce potential candidates to the banking world.

To offer an authentic glimpse into the work-life at the bank, Morgan Stanley has dedicated sections of articles for graduate applicants as well as experienced professionals detailing the work environment and anticipated challenges. Their “Mixed Open Day” initiative invites 13-year-old students to experience life at the bank, while “Step In, Step Up” is a three-day insight program encouraging female student participation in finance.


Citigroup advocates a ‘promote when ready’ policy, encouraging its bankers to unleash their full potential at the earliest. With a global workforce exceeding 200,000, Citi is among the four major banks in the United States. The group secured the 30th position on the Fortune 500 list as of 2019. Incorporated and headquartered in New York, it is one of the nine banks in the bulge bracket.

Owing to the bank’s global presence, employees enjoy the luxury of rotational assignments and travel to multiple sites as part of their duties. Diligent workers experience an escalation in client exposure and managerial responsibility along with timely promotions.

An investment banking analyst at Citi’s London branch shared her work experience:

“The Analyst programme starts with comprehensive training and team allocation and, depending on the department joined, may include rotations across teams and/or regions. Investment Banking Analysts are for example offered the opportunity to apply for rotations, and a few analysts went to the US and Australia. As we gain seniority, Analysts are promoted to Senior Analysts, Associates, and VPs, and responsibilities and client exposure increase. Citi’s policy is to “promote when ready”, which allows for potential early promotions.”


Bank of America, being a prominent player in the consumer banking segment, focuses on tech-savvy graduates and looks for innovative minds to drive the bank forward. It is among the handful of investment banks that place a high emphasis on employee satisfaction.

Boasting a vast network, Bank of America records high consumer retention rates. Their career mobility initiative allows employees to switch across departments. Not only does this provide a comprehensive view of the entire banking operation but it also enables a cross-collaboration culture that fosters a unified work environment.

The bank’s dedication to innovation is visible through its investment in technologically adept graduates. Bank of America encourages tech enthusiasts to join their team and contribute to shaping the future of the bank.


Barclays is a London-based bank operating in over 30 countries and offering diverse experiences. Named the Best Investment Bank in the UK and Western Europe by Euromoney Magazine, it has an employee count exceeding 20,000.

Barclays’ product offerings cover a broad spectrum, ranging from personal and corporate banking to wealth and investment management. The bank houses a dedicated archive showcasing employees’ experiences, providing prospective bankers a peek into life at Barclays.

According to Barclays, “our rotational program provides an exceptional introduction to our organization. It will give you broad experience, introduce you to colleagues across our business, and help you understand our bank’s values and culture.”

The investment banking world can be daunting with long hours, challenging negotiations, and high pressure to innovate. However, for those with the determination and grit to endure, it presents a thrilling journey to the top. Understanding the landscape and choosing the right institution for your career initiation is the key to quick success in this field.

Source: resources.onewire.com

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