What soft skills will I need in investment banking?
Want to get into investment banking? Sure, you’re going to need the technical skills and a deep understanding of the financial markets, but to make a career in this field, you’re going to need something else to give you the edge—and that’ll be your soft skills!
There are a few key soft skills which are vital to have as you head into an investment banking career. Of course, you won’t have them all right now—you’ll start to develop them as soon as you hit your internship. But you’re going to have to display some sort of ability to develop these skills if you don’t have them already, or else you may struggle to get by in an investment banking role.
Soft skills for investment banking
Here’s a peek at some of the key soft skills you’ll need in investment banking:
Calmness under pressure
There’s no escaping the fact that investment banking can be a real pressure cooker of a work environment. Performance matters! There are big demands from managers and clients alike to do the job well and meet the deadlines. Front office roles in particular can feel the heat and will involve crucial decision making under pressure and short timescales. This is probably one of the hardest soft skills to learn and develop. Everyone reacts differently under pressure. You could be the smartest technical mind out there, but if you can’t keep your cool when the pressure is on you’re going to find investment banking extremely difficult.
Investment banks thrive on effective teamwork, from departments through to the links between front office, middle office and back office. What kinds of experiences have you had working in a team up until now? Think about how you contribute, support teammates, and ensure a job gets done. What do you do well? What could you do better? If you’re sure of your teamwork soft skills you’ll be able to sell them in the best way throughout the application process for an investment banking role.
Investment banking involves some long hours. Late nights and weekends—even all-nighters—all come with the territory. 80-hour weeks are not unusual! You will need plenty of stamina and mental control to be able to cope with long hours, and to develop ways of ensuring you can perform at your best for this long too. At this point, it’s worth considering if you think you’d be up for that challenge, or whether you’d prefer more regular working hours.
The gift of the gab will get you a long way in investment banking. The technical skills are vital as a foundation, but if your investment banking role involves any amount of interaction with clients and/or potential clients, as well as other parties in deals, the art of persuasion is going to be one of your best assets. Effective negotiators are crucial in investment banking. Think about ways in which you can work on your negotiation skills and how you build rapport with people. The more you can hone this, the better you'll be in an investment banking role.
The finance industry has been undergoing some pretty seismic changes in regulation and conduct since the financial crisis. Investment banks are looking for intelligent and responsible new employees who will uphold industry regulations and look to minimise risk wherever possible. Honesty and integrity are more personal attributes than a soft skill as such, but adhering to the regulations is something that all bankers have to learn to do!