Tuesday, January 25, 2022

An overview of Investment Banking Career in India

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So, you want to become an investment banker in India?

Despite that…

  • Investment banking career landscape is quite different in India.
  • Most graduates assume back-office roles here (instead of front-office).
  • Though a high paying career, it is not as prestigious (today) as it used to be prior to the financial crisis.

Even if you were not aware of these facets, each is touched upon in the sections below. Here’s a quick glimpse of how you can make a career in investment banking in India.

First thing first, make sure you are really interested in the industry, not just for its big bucks, but for the following reasons:

  • You really want to advise companies – on debt, equity, M&A – and can spend a lot of time on making PowerPoints, excel, word, etc. compiling the reports.
  • You are also interested in the exit opportunities to which investment banking is a prerequisite. Having an idea of exit opportunities is important because most aspirants enter the investment banking industry for its lure of high compensation and heavy industry exposure. Post a few years, it is rather customary for them to jump to sister ships, such as in private equity or corporate development.

Ways of breaking in the industry…

Investment banking in India is different than in the developed countries (even those with similar economy size as that of India) due to its virtue of less hype and more regulations. This results in few career openings, and huge competition.

Even the top investment banks in the country take only a dozens of Analysts in their front-office IB operations (overall, not just annually). That said, the number of aspirants (from all backgrounds – finance, engineering, and even arts) looking to get into the career are numerous.

The future in investment banking career is BRIGHT for graduates from IIMs or world’s top B-schools.

Graduated with MBA from IIMs or one of the world’s top business schools?

If so, it is the easiest and highly chosen path to investment banking in India.

They want candidates who have completed their bachelor’s and now have studied at the top MBA institution of the country.

Top recruiters hire candidates from IIMs (especially the top two: IIM-Calcutta and IIM-Ahmedabad; few also go to IIM-Bangalore) on Analyst position. Most of the front-office positions as investment bankers are assumed by these graduates. MBA level candidates can also be recruited on Associate level (though they are quite non-existent as per the populace that vouches for this role).

If you fall under this category, make use of your full-time work experience and pre-MBA internships to prove your adequacy for the role. Compensation earned is quite solid for this category candidates.

An undergraduate from one of the top IITs, and now want to enter investment banking industry in India?

From IITs, investment banks hire students mostly for their back-office operations and Knowledge Process Outsourcing (KPO) roles. For undergraduates, there are almost no front-office opportunities.

Undergraduates aspiring for this industry, especially those from non-finance backgrounds, like dell emc proven professional MUST take advantage of their initial years and engage in rotational programs, off-cycle internships, etc.

Chartered Accountants (CAs) in India, and now wish to enter the industry?

It is not uncommon for CAs and account professionals to be chosen in investment banking. However, they may be selected for back-office roles in accounting. In front-office roles, small banks such as BAML run recruiting operations and programs.

Neither from IIMs or IITs or a CA, and wish to embark an investment banking career in India?

Much like elsewhere in the world, it is difficult for people under this category to get into the industry. Your one golden mantra for you is – NETWORK!!!

Also, try to target a lower-tier bank in the beginning.

Though it’s not impossible to win IB offers with no solid degree background, since the openings are so less in India, the competition rises sky high.

Having industry exposure, either through internships, or exchange programs would help candidates from all categories to get their foot in investment banking.

Interview – What to expect?

  • A heavy focus is on technical questions in India, when appearing for the interview. Even more so it is found in countries like London. It is assumed that if one can answer technical questions effectively, one would be able to do the job as efficiently as well. So, keep your knowledge about macroeconomic indicators up to date, like CPI in India, GDP, rate of inflation, among others.
  • Further, banks would expect you to be aware of recent deals made in the industry. Keep your know-how of the pulse of both domestic and international banks latest.
  • A professional investment banking certification can give you a competitive advantage from piles of other candidates’ resumes. It will prove your aptness for the industry and professional willingness to invest in a career in finance. You can also go for training programs from Coursera but possessing a third-party professional certification is a more solid indicator. Some of the globally acknowledged certification bodies in investment banking include CFA Institute, Investment Banking Council of America (IBCA), and a few more.
  • Finally, if you come with full-time work experience, you may be asked to solve case studies, and do a few modelling tests.

This was a quick overview of investment banking career in India.Taking these basics as your foundation, explore more about Indian IB market to curate your break-in strategy for your candidature.


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