11 Factors to Consider When Searching
for Investment Banking Training
If you’re not in the investment banking field – but you’d like to be – you have plenty of options when it comes investment banking training.
Some people think you need to go to a top-tier university or MBA program to break into the field. And while there are plenty of bankers with those backgrounds, you’ll also meet quite a few who have attended lesser-known schools, made big career changes, and gotten in via any number of paths.
When banks hire people, they look for those with the right skills – and you can gain these skills by going through the appropriate training program and learning as much as you can on your own.
Here are the types of skills you need for the field:
- Financial Modeling
- Microsoft Excel and PowerPoint
- M&A and LBO Modeling
To get interviews and land job offers, you need to know something about the skills above – not only because they’re what you use on the job, but also because your competition will certainly be up to speed on them.
If you walk into an interview and don’t know how to value a company or how a merger model works, it’s over. You might have scraped by when the market was way less competitive, in, say, the 2004 – 2007 timeframe, but those days are over.
Industry-specific skills acquired through investment banking training can also be valuable. For example, many successful investment bankers made themselves attractive to recruiters by gaining expertise in the following types of valuation and modeling:
- Real Estate Development
- Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs)
- Oil & Gas
- Banks &Financial Institutions
If you’ve attended a prestigious university for undergraduate or graduate / MBA studies then you have two advantages. First, you could have organized your education around gaining the requisite knowledge and skills. Second, top-tier investment banks probably recruited at your university.
However, if your educational career doesn’t include stops at places like Harvard, Wharton, or Oxford, taking IB training courses can make yourself more marketable to banks and help you gain the skills you need to break into investment banking.
Thankfully, getting this training is massively less expensive than four years at an Ivy League school followed by two years in graduate school. There are several ways that would-be investment bankers gain the skills they need through IB training:
- Offline Courses and Classroom Training Programs
- Distance Learning
- Online Courses
We’re going to focus on online courses here as these are increasingly popular – they combine the interactivity of classroom sessions with the ability to go at your own pace and study what you want, all for a great price. What should you consider when looking at online courses?
1. The Quality of the Curriculum.
This is the most important factor for your success, because if the material isn’t up to par you won’t improve your chances of breaking into the industry.
At Breaking Into Wall Street, we’ve focused on the content above all else. That’s why we don’t do offline courses, classroom training or anything like that – we’d rather focus on the online experience and make it great.
The Advanced Financial Modeling program, for example, includes 100 lessons and over 30 hours of video on topics that most other programs don’t even touch – how book vs. cash taxes, NOLs, and different transaction types work in merger models, for example.
And all the courses on our site, from Excel and modeling fundamentals to the industry-specific lessons, are based on case studies so you learn from real-world examples as opposed to academic textbooks.
2. The Author(s) of the Programs.
The problem with many financial modeling courses is that they’re not based on what you do in the real world at banks, PE funds, and other finance firms.
That’s why our programs were created by a diverse team with experience in everything from start-ups to investment banking to sales & trading to private equity and venture capital. You can read about everyone’s backgrounds here.
3. Theory Backed By Real World Examples.
Understanding and learning the theory is important – but theory will only take you so far.
Make sure the investment banking trainingyou take includes “real world” examples and ideally case studies based on real companies and transactions.In one of our courses, Excel &Financial Modeling Fundamentals, we use case studies based on several companies and M&A deals, including: Apple and Research in Motion; TPG’ s acquisition of J Crew; ConAgra’s proposed acquisition of Ralcorp;Intel’s acquisition of McAfee.
4. Delivery of the Investment Banking Training.
How is the content provided? Is it a series of PDFs? Books?Manuals?Videos?All of the above? Think about what works best for you when it comes to investment banking training.
Here, we do everything in video format and provide quick reference PDFs and comments on the lessons. We think that works well for teaching financial modeling, and it lets us quickly and easily updatethe courses – but everyone learns differently.
5. Self-Testing So You Retain What You Learn.
One of the best ways to make sure you retain what you learn is self testing. When you assess investment banking training, look into how the program helps you retain the curriculum – whether that’s through homework assignments, quizzes, or interactivity and questions and answers.
Here, we provide “Before” and “After” files you can use to test yourself as well as the ability to ask questions and receive answers on everything on the site.
Many online training companies have little or no service and support and this can slow your progress. When you’re studying something as complex as case studies of mega-M&A deals, the last thing you want is to not be able to receive answers to all your question.
So make sure the training company you choose has world-class support with experienced bankers answering your questions, comments, and emails 365 days per year.
Check with the company and check their testimonials. Is the training company helping students and professionals alike get results? And a result is a JOB in the investment banking field (or related fields such as private equity and hedge funds).
Yes, learning for the sake of learning is great, but let’s not forget the purpose of training programs: to land high-paying job offers.
8. Money-Back Guarantee.
If you make a significant investment in investment banking training and you’re not satisfied, what happens? With Breaking Into Wall Street we provide a rock-solid, money-back guarantee on all the courses.
Most other companies don’t do that, which we think is laughable – if your courses are so great, why don’t you stand behind them and guarantee how good they are?
9. Sample Material.
Does the training company provide sample material so you can see what you’re getting before you make your investment? At Breaking Into Wall Street, we’ve provided dozens of sample videos from all the courses. Here’s one from our Excel &Modeling Fundamentals Course.
You’d never buy a book without being able to peek inside first, and it’s the same with training programs – no matter how advanced they are.
One of the keys to landing a great job in the investment banking field is specialization. At Breaking into Wall Street, we have specialized courses for Real Estate & REITs, Oil & Gas, and Banks & Financial Institutions.
True, you may not need to specialize right away… but advanced knowledge really comes in handy in the future and when you’re up against tough competition in interviews. We urge you to think long-term about what skills you’ll need not only today, but also 10 years into the future.
11) Getting Your Foot in the Door.
You can have all the knowledge and expertise, but it’s pretty much useless if you can’t network and you can’t ace your interviews.
Some online IB training courses provide solid content, but don’t provide real world advice when it comes to securing interviews and getting your foot in the door. At Breaking into Wall Street, we have dedicated courses for both of those:The Investment Banking Interview Guide and the Networking Ninja Toolkit. Both will help you land jobs with banks, PE firms, hedge funds, and more.
Getting ajob on Wall Street isn’t easy – especially with how competitive the recruiting environment has gotten. Some banks rarely even advertise their jobs openly.
So it’s VITAL to have the “toolbox”andknow how to use the tools in the intense and fast-paced world of investment banking. You also need to understand what hiring decision makers are looking for so you know how to approach them and find success during interviews.
One excellent way to gain the knowledge and expertise you need is to take classroom-based investment banking training. In most cases, this involves going in-person to meet with an instructor. You work with the instructor, learn the skills, and complete homework; it’s one investment banking training option.
While this type of investment banking training can be effective, it’s costly: it might be anywhere from $5,000 to $10,000 or more.A strong alternative is an online course that lets you progress at your own pace and provides all the skills you need to get the result you want to achieve.
This approach is based on video training where you look over the shoulder of the instructor. At Breaking into Wall Street, we provide a full suite of Investment Banking Trainingcourses that 10,000+ students and professionals have already used to get on the road to successful investment banking careers.
You can meet them here.
Getting into the investment banking field is difficult, but by no means impossible. It comes down to how dedicated and persistent you are, and also how committed you are to gaining the required skills. So, it’s your call: you can take training and ensure that you’re more than prepared… or you could leave it to chance. In today’s market, I wouldn’t rely on luck.