Banking Age: Am I Too Old?

You’re in your late twenties working in finance, have always wanted to do M&A and didn’t go through a prestigious MBA program.  Are you too old for investment banking?

The short answer is NO. What you’ll find is that breaking into investment banking takes A LOT of networking and learning the ropes of the interview process.  This isn’t an industry where you can just apply online and get an interview: you’re about to enter one of the most competitive jobs in finance so you’ll need to gauge your expectations.

First, you need to understand where you fit in the investment banking recruiting cycle.  If you’re already graduated from college there is no way a bulge bracket investment bank will hire you into their first year analyst class. Furthermore, if you didn’t go to a top 5 MBA program you will not be looked at for first year associate interviews.

So where does that bring us? To the boutique and middle-market investment banks: you’ll find that the interview process is far less structured, sometimes less competitive, and more influential if you have any time of referral.  I know for a fact (because I worked with some) that there are ~30 year old first year analysts at middle-market investment banks in NYC.

So what now? You need to start preparing:

  1. Resume: You need to have your resume in top-notch shape.  About 90% of all resumes received by investment banks are garbage: I know because I was on the recruiting team. Don’t underestimate how important your resume needs to look, if you need help the Street of Walls Investment Banking team will help you rebuild your resume to stand out for IB recruiters.
  2. Networking: You need to networking as much as possible. Start building out a list of boutique investment banks in excel and start trying to make relationships with those banks. Talk with your college’s alumni network and see what graduates might be working at these banks. Don’t be afraid to cold call banks and ask to speak with a recruiter or associate within the investment banking division. This is the part where you start knocking down doors: it’s time consuming but it’s a fact of life for people who have gotten into the industry.
  3. Interview Prep: Once you start making connections and have a fantastic resume you need to start nailing down interview questions. Investment banking interview questions are quite predictable if you have the right prep material but missing 1 question is usually enough to kill your interview.  Our team of investment bankers and former recruiters put together the best investment banking prep guide on the street, this will have everything you need to get a job.

This is a numbers game; you’ll need to use every resource possible in order to get a job.  Make sure to set your own internal expectations: it could take 500 emails and 10 interviews to finally get something…but believe me it’s possible and I’ve seen it done.

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