Life after banking: Important lessons to take with you when you move on…
The skills gained in investment banking are a strong foundation for many future career paths.
In this article we speak to members of our network who have begun their careers in banking, but have subsequently moved on to become Private Equity professionals, entrepreneurs, communication consultants, tech developers and advisors, to name a few. Despite the wide-ranging industries that they ended up in, they all agree that banking was a great place to begin their careers and taught them invaluable lessons. If you are currently an investment banker considering the next steps in your career, have a read of the article below to find out what they learnt and the importance of making the most of this stage in your career before heading off to pastures new.
Investment Manager – Moved from leveraged finance to a mid-market PE Fund: “While I came from a debt background and PE typically hires people from M&A, reviewing IMs and due diligence, writing papers and making investment decisions was a key part of my previous role. I also bring an understanding of how a lender might look at a situation and I'm familiar with reviewing debt documentation and negotiating with lenders. The next step in PE is developing your own investment thesis and scoping due diligence to verify it. Taking board seats, inputting into the strategy of businesses and working with a management team to drive value creation was also a new and exciting part of the role.
PE is far less task-driven than banking: you’ve got to be more proactive in building your network, in thinking about key issues and refining the investment thesis when working on a deal and in driving value creation once you’re working with a portfolio company. It’s an ideas-driven job.”
Corporate Development Lead – Moved from M&A to a start-up tech business: “I am a strong believer that we are owners of our careers and we can develop several skills based on our ambitions and career aspirations. There is always time to learn and headroom for improvement – however, Investment Banking has been an opportunity to get equipped with strong, reliable and recognised skill sets, mostly in corporate finance / strategy. Discipline and bureaucracy can be extreme, but you will get a lot out of it.
Transferable skills I am using day-to-day are:
Financial modelling skills – key during capital raise and when positioning the company. Advanced Excel skills are needed
Accounting skills – essential during budgeting processes
Business development skills – reviewing agreements, client management skills and strong communication and argumentation skills when selecting a list of buyers or acquisition targets
Qualitative skills - such as writing structured teasers and presentations
Analytics mindset – essential to be able to turn unstructured information into granular models to take data driven decisions.
Teamwork skills – it is very important to always remember we are all working towards the same goal: creating value as a company"
Product Manager – Moved from FIG M&A to a mobile gaming company: “I think honestly banking is a good “starter” job for many people, and for some it’s a good career. As it turns out, being a career banker wasn’t the right path for me, but it definitely taught me a lot of very valuable and transferable skills; I don’t think I would have done anything differently. My current gaming firm thinks of the product role in three parts: (1) project and team management, (2) analytics, and (3) game design. My experience in banking made me good at (1) and (2) - two for three, not bad!"
Board Director and Investor – Moved from investment banking to become a start-up advisor and investor: “I wanted to invest and advise businesses where I felt that my sector expertise could add strategic value. Although the size of these businesses sit at opposite ends of the spectrum to the ones I’ve previously worked with, the basic corporate finance principles, particularly around raising capital, are the same – you are helping a management team to articulate a story through numbers to explain the business model to investors and to convince them that they will generate a return. We all like to de-risk our diligence – whether it’s looking for a job or investing – so it’s also important to always think strategically about who might help other people come along the journey; that principle applies both to angel investing or raising capital for multi-billion pound companies."
Managing Director – Moved from M&A to Strategic Communications: “Starting your career in banking does give you good habits, like work ethic, working with demanding clients (and colleagues!), and getting on with all sorts of different people. Pitching and marketing were very helpful for getting an idea of how (and how not) to 'sell'. There are also technical skills like working on excel, and PowerPoint. I picked up some bad habits from banking too, mind!”
Financial Advisor – Moved from M&A to financial planning: “Working in banking helped teach me to think outside the box and look for different edges / USPs. It helped me realise whatever tough work or hours I was facing, I've probably faced harder times. It gave me confidence to speak up, put my views forward and be more assertive, which has usually helped me stand out from others. It has also served as a reminder not to let work get in the way of life. I’m sure I could be doing what I do now without having worked in investment banking, but it definitely gave me a great foundation."