January 07, 2021

21 Ways to Thrive in Investment Banking for 2021

By Brandon Mavleos, Sr Director of Product Marketing

With 2020 in the rearview mirror, it is good to take a step back and think about what we have learned from top dealmakers on succeeding in the industry. As part of our #Iblifehacks series, we have compiled a list of 21 themes, courtesy of your industry peers and leaders, that every young banker should consider as they look to progress their career this year and beyond.

 

Embark on learning and skill development

1) Surround yourself with people who give you confidence

“Be confident in your ability – it can be difficult to gather the confidence to speak up in a conversation where you are not 100% sure of what you want to say. It’s important to surround yourself with people who will give you that confidence” Meg Taylor, Moelis

2) Stand out by championing technological improvement

“Embrace the changes in technology and figure out how to be productive. It cannot be an excuse; it has to be a tool that you have mastered. You should make yourself as functional as possible.” Ben Hochberg, Lee Equity Partners

3) Observe others and write down best practices

“You might be on a deal call with many people – watch what everyone is doing and pull best practices from them. That is its own form of mentorship.” Stella Binkevich, Moelis

4) Develop your leadership skills via courses

“Any sort of client facing role, we have to all know to be persuasive in a presentation, how to public speak... When you start looking for those courses, it’s really important to make sure you’re taking full advantage of them.” Katie Etherington, Raymond James

5) Look for speaking opportunities, even if you are not naturally good at them

“When you are speaking in a large group, relax your body – think of yourself as if you are in your living room, and you are hanging out with a friend, and you are telling your friend a speech… things will feel more natural.” Bao Truong, Centerbridge

6) Improve your on-camera skills

“Think about the way you present on camera. Practice the way you can get your points across. If you feel you are a better presenter in person, develop the same skill set on Zoom.” Ben Hochberg, Lee Equity Partners

 

Bring your whole self to work

7) Be your own advocate by speaking up

“The more inquisitive you are, and the more you speak up, frankly the more you will learn. By having conversations and showing the ability you are not shy, senior folks will take to that and want to teach you.” Neha Shah, Houlihan Lokey

8) Let your work ethic shine

“Be your authentic self. If you are likeable, approachable, hardworking – it’s a lot harder to criticize, and people are way more willing to teach you.” Meg Taylor, Moelis

9) Stay in touch with what is going on in the real world

“Even if you have you head buried in PowerPoint or Excel all day, you have to remember there is a bigger world out there. Ultimately, we’re in a relationship business, and you need to have some things to speak to clients about.” Anne Ross, J.P. Morgan

10) Play the long game everyday

“Every day is about investing in getting better, investing in yourself, and investing in what you are doing at any given moment. If you start with that long game mindset it will be helpful.” Stella Binkevich, Moelis

 

Network like a pro

11) Advance your career by talking to someone who has a job you want

“I often say to my juniors, the best thing to do is to find someone’s job which you want and talk to them about how they got there.” Katie Etherington, Raymond James

12) Do more internal networking across banking groups

“Get to know senior people in different groups within banking. The more people you know, there’s a better chance you’ll learn from them.” Neha Shah, Houlihan Lokey

13) If you are looking for your next step, don’t underestimate culture

“It’s important to find a firm that you click with, where you feel comfortable, with people you can look up to, and where you feel valuable.” Meg Taylor, Moelis

14) Seek advice from others… but not just within financial services

“It’s very important to amalgamate different points of view. Somebody doesn’t need to sit in the very seat that you are sitting in, to give sound advice.” Stella Binkevich, Moelis

15) Don’t be afraid to reach out to people on LinkedIn, just make it personal

“The days of sending a note to the office are over. For LinkedIn, pretty much everyone is on it, it’s very effective, and I certainly think it’s acceptable to reach out to people via this channel.” Joshua Rosenbaum, RBC

16) Keep in touch with colleagues, as they will be good references

“If you are working in IB today, and want to pivot to a new career, think carefully about the people who know you and what they would say about you. We’re going to make it our business to talk to those people before extending an offer, and that will help us form a composite view to make a hiring decision.” Ben Hochberg, Lee Equity Partners

 

Maintain a healthy mentality

17) Don’t sweat the small stuff – you’re going to have both good and bad days

“As both a working mother and a business manager, we have our good days, and we have our bad days. But we need to give ourselves some slack. If we feel like we’re making difference in both aspects of our lives, I think we’re doing well.” Katie Etherington, Raymond James

18) Look at everyday as a learning opportunity

“There is something new to learn every day in IB – a new challenge, a new company, a new sponsor. The job gets more challenging as the years go by, for different reasons. But that is what has kept me around, and kept it more exciting for me” Neha Shah, Houlihan Lokey

19) Take a step back on a weekly basis

“It can be difficult sometimes, but you need to take a step back and think about what you achieved this week, or what you want to achieve next week. Seeing the whole big picture is really important.” Anne Ross, J.P. Morgan

20) Don’t let every call just be about business

“Sometimes it’s easy to just be transactional on a call…but connecting with people, talking about their personal lives for a few minutes, helps to reinforce the relationship.” Bao Truong, Centerbridge

21) Look for areas to pay it back – it’s rewarding

“There is always an opportunity to be mentor. Use whatever platform you have, small or large, or influence someone else… show up for someone else in your capacity as a friend, banker, etc.” Stella Binkevich

 

For more advice, videos, and content – straight from top dealmakers – visit our #iblifehacks hub.

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