Investment Banking Career Ladder

Aug 06, 2019

Investment bankers play an important role in connecting businesses with funding for daily operations or expansion, as well as providing guidance through initial public offerings (IPOs), mergers, and acquisitions. With additional education and experience, an investment banker can move up the career ladder to financial analyst, financial manager, and chief financial officer.

Career Advancement for Investment Bankers

One of the key roles of an investment banker is underwriting, which connects businesses with sources of funding for daily operations or expansion. Investment bankers also guide businesses through the legal and financial requirements of initial public offerings (IPOs) and provide vital assistance during mergers and acquisitions. Investment bankers have a bachelor's degree in finance or some related field, as well as intensive training and licensing with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). Investment banker is often the first rung in a career ladder that, with additional education and experience, can step up to financial analyst, financial manager, and chief financial officer.

Job Title Mean Annual Salary (2018)* Job Growth (2016-26)* Qualifications
Financial Analyst $100,990 11% CFA or similar certification
Financial Manager $146,830 19% 5+ years of experience in a finance-related field
Chief Financial Officer $200,140 (chief executives) 8% (top executives) Master of Business Administration (MBA) or similar

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Career Information

Financial Analyst

Through experience and a series of exams, an investment banker can move up to the position of financial analyst. Financial analysts are corporate investment advisors; they track market trends in order to provide a business or corporation with sound investment advice. Financial analysts usually specialize in either the buy-side or sell-side of investment analysis. Common employers include banks, insurance companies, and securities firms. There are generally no additional degree requirements for an investment banker seeking a financial analyst position. However, a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) or similar certification is recommended.

Financial Manager

A career rung after financial analyst is that of financial manager. Financial managers are advisors to other business managers and executives, providing guidance on investments, budgeting, profit expansion, and the company's overall financial health. Financial managers must also be experts in taxes, regulation, and other financial restrictions within their specific industry. A minimum of five years of experience is necessary to reach this next step. In this competitive field, many employers seek candidates with a master's degree in finance (or a related field). Though not necessarily required, applicants with an active CFA or similar certification may set themselves apart from the competition.

Chief Financial Officer

An experienced financial manager with proven leadership, analysis, networking, and strategic thinking skills could step up into the role of chief financial officer (CFO). A CFO heads a corporation's finance team, overseeing reports, investments, compliance issues, and more. A CFO also works hand-in-hand with other top executives to develop company-wide strategies and policies. Successful CFOs are motivational team leaders. They also adapt effectively to changes in regulations, technology, and market trends. A master's degree in business, finance, or a similar field, is recommended. Some potential CFOs also earn a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) certification.

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