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Where to start

This sector offers well-paid, fast-paced, pressurized jobs. It gives you exposure to high-profile deals and clients that shape financial markets and have massive global impact. The Prospects website provides a good overview of the banking and investment sector and the roles within it.

This unofficial guide to investment banking explains what different banking divisions do, and what roles you may fit. The Bankers By Day website gives more detail.

How to know if you’re suited to this sector

The range of roles, divisions and different types of organisation make the opportunities here vast, albeit complex. Are you motivated by the buzz of the markets and the trading floor? Do you prefer to be working on high-profile deals for important clients in IBD/M&A? Or are you more comfortable working a bit more behind the scenes, in middle or back office roles?

It’s vital that you reflect on why you’re drawn to the investment world, as well as how it fits your interests, strengths and personality. You will need a genuine interest in finance and what makes the markets move to work in this sector.

The general traits required include: problem solving, people skills, the ability to negotiate, adaptability, attention to detail, and good numeracy skills.

Look through the following links to get an idea of what different roles entail:

The CUFIS guide to roles and divisions provides frank advice about what it’s like to work in investment banking, private equity, venture capital, hedge fund and trading.

How to get the experience to be credible

The banking and financial sector has a highly competitive recruitment process. Extra work will certainly advantage your applications. Try to do the following:

  • Get work experience – insight days, spring weeks, work shadowing, internships
  • Do some trading – virtual trading and trading games are easily accessible as a student
  • Fill gaps in your knowledge and skills – study accounting, learn how to program, track companies/sectors, read the Financial Times for free through the university
  • Take on projects and roles of responsibility to demonstrate entrepreneurial drive
  • Network and learn from people who work across this sector.

Work experience can be gained through spring insight programs, summer internships, work shadowing, ad hoc work experience, and virtual internships.

Firms start recruiting for summer and spring internships the previous autumn, with deadlines around October-December. This varies by firm, so always check their website for exact details.  

Find internships on Ratemyplacement, Target Jobs, and Handshake.

You may find this resource with recommendations from employers helpful to increase your knowledge and skills in this area.

Further study or certification required

For some roles in investment you need certain qualifications - the IMC and the CFA are two examples. For Quant roles, many firms recruit strictly from Master’s and PhD programmes. InsideCareers has a guide to qualifications in the finance and investment industry.

How to find employers or training courses

Find employers on Handshake, and attending the Banking and Finance Careers Fair (details also on Handshake). It's a good idea to find out more about employers and the roles they offer.

Look through the following websites for longer lists of all companies in the investment area.

Tips for succeeding in the application or selection process

Application stage

Interviews and Assessments

  • Practice psychometric assessments: numeracy, SJT Situation Judgement Tests, business case scenarios, group exercises.
What Cambridge offers to help with this career

Search Handshake for job vacancies, sector-related emails, Banking & Finance fair, employer presentations, connecting with employers. Sign up for events from the Judge Business School Centre for Endowment Asset Management.

There are many relevant University societies. They often hold useful careers events, particularly during Michaelmas term, with key speakers and sponsor-hosted events. 

Other things you should know

Inclusivity and diversity initiatives

Many investment firms have partnered with external organisations in order to recruit a more diverse workforce. Look out for their events, mentorship and placement programmes.